Ira Levine to lead national algae and aquaculture studies

[USA] A Lewiston college professor has been awarded a $1.5 million grant by the U.S. Department of Energy to expand aquaculture, according to a news release from the university.

Ira Levine, who teaches natural and applied sciences at the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College, will lead a three-year effort to expand workers’ skills in aquaculture.

Levine has worked in this country and abroad focusing on using algae as fuel and as a food additive to boost nutrition.

The project will be administered through the Algae Foundation, a nonprofit organization working to expand the algae industry. Levine serves as the foundation’s president and chairman. He will also serve as the principal investigator for the grant.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is also working on the project.

“It’s about teaching the next generation of aquaculture workers,” Levine said in the news release. The money will be used to develop a two-year aquaculture degree for community colleges and technical schools. It will also aid the creation of an Algae Technology Educational Consortium, joining schools, national research labs and industry.

“It’s about creating the next generation of aquaculture workers,” Levine said.

The new aquaculture classes could begin as early as next fall, he said.

Schools in southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Florida join the project. Southern Maine Community College could also be part of the program, he said. There are no plans to offer the classes at USM, university spokesman Dan Hartill said.

Levine would continue teaching classes in Lewiston, Hartill said.

In 2009, Levine was chosen as a New Century Scholar by the State Department’s Fulbright program. His work at home and abroad focused on using algae as a fuel source and as bio-based nutraceuticals and cosmaceuticals.


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