Professor Named to Lead ISU's BioCentury Research Farm

March 16th, 2009

AMES, Iowa — Lawrence Johnson, Iowa State University professor of food science and human nutrition, has been named director of the BioCentury Research Farm, a biorenewables production and processing research facility under construction west of Ames.

"I am excited about this opportunity to help our faculty, producers and industry make this revolution in agriculture a reality that's for the good of all Iowans," Johnson said. "We must meet consumer and producer needs for energy with sustainable technologies to preserve our soils and water resources. Iowa State's BioCentury Research Farm will provide unprecedented capabilities to develop improved crops and agronomic practices, more efficient harvesting, storing and transporting technologies, and advanced conversion processes."

The BioCentury Research Farm, formerly called the New Century Farm in initial planning, is under development as part of ISU's Agricultural Engineering and Agronomy Research Farm west of Ames. Johnson, who has been involved in the planning and development of the facility, praised the central location for crop production and processing and the goal of considering systems integration before research is undertaken.

"Iowa State's BioCentury Research Farm will be the world's first fully integrated biomass production farm and processing facility," said Johnson. "It's a place where ISU faculty and industry can partner to develop advanced biorenewable fuels, biobased products and industrial chemicals from grain, agricultural residues and cellulosic crops as feedstocks. These new tools will make Iowa State the best place to carry out research and development focused on advancing biorefineries and Iowa the most logical location to grow the crops and to place new processing plants."

The BioCentury Research Farm is scheduled to begin processing operations this summer. ISU research on biomass crop production has been ongoing and will be expanded this year. Buildings for field equipment development, storage and processing also are under development at the site.

Johnson has extensive research and administrative experience. For more than 20 years, he has led ISU's Center for Crops Utilization Research, which develops or improves commercial and industrial uses for corn and soybeans. He holds 12 patents, alone and with other researchers, covering food and industrial technologies. Last month, he shared the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Team Award for leading a group that developed new and environmentally friendly technologies that use water and enzymes to extract oil for food or biodiesel uses.


Lawrence Johnson, Food Science and Human Nutrition, (515) 294-4365,

Brian Meyer, Agriculture and Life Sciences Communication Service, (515) 294-5616,