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Potomac News

Senior Named Regeneron Scholar for Research on Biofuel Production
Senior Named Regeneron Scholar for Research on Biofuel Production

Senior Peter Holmes, a student in Potomac's Science and Engineering Research Center (SERC) program, has been selected as one of 300 Regeneron Scholars (previously known as Intel semifinalists) as part of the Regeneron Science Talent Search, a prestigious pre-college competition.

Peter, who will attend Duke University next year, was chosen for his innovative approach to the production of ethanol as a biofuel.

His project advisor, Dr. Isabelle Cohen, explains, "Peter developed a system in which baker's yeast in the presence of photosynthetic organelles from algae produced ethanol as efficiently as in the presence of the common sugar glucose. This is a new approach to the production of ethanol as a biofuel." She adds, "His scientific approach was one of the soundest I have witnessed in my many years of research and teaching."

Peter began working on the project as a junior, devoting time over school breaks to continue his research. Having read about using algae to make ethanol, he notes, "I tried to think outside the box about a new way that could be more productive and more efficient. That would be to have a single organism, or at least one system, that can both ferment and photosynthesize at the same time, making the whole process more effective."

For his selection, Peter receives a $2,000 award from Regeneron, with an additional $2,000 presented to Potomac. On January 24, Regeneron will announce 40 finalists, who will then compete for the top award of $250,000.