A six year veteran of the United States Navy, Derek Vardon began working with the Algae Biofuel Project during the summer of 2007. With the help of Prof. Schideman, Derek successfully applied for seed-funding through the campus Student Sustainability Committee and has continued to serve as the project-lead for the Algae Biofuels group. Previously, Derek worked for two years with Prof. Clark's group under the guidance of David Ladner in the Environmental Engineering Department researching the fouling effects of algal blooms on membrane water treatment systems. Through his experience with both projects Derek has discovered a passion for research and is continuing for a doctorate degree in Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois to advance the state of renewable bioenergy and pollution mitigation technology.
Derek is currently working in Professor Timothy Strathmann's research group, investigating biocrude oil characterization methods and applying heterogeneous catalysts to the hydrothermal liquefaction process.
Derek's recent research has focused on cultivating algae from coal-fired flue gas at Abbott power plant (TOP). He has also been working on algal cultivation and harvesting (MIDDLE) for biodiesel conversion (BOTTOM).
Derek at the CEE Departmental award ceremony (TOP). While in the Navy he served as a staff instructor at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Unit in Charleston, SC (MIDDLE). He also recently received the national Goldwater Scholarship honoring undergraduate researchers (BOTTOM).