ABO was saddened this month by the passing of marine biologist Dr. Mark Hildebrand, the leader of one of the United States’ top centers for algal biofuel research. He was 59.
Hildebrand was director of the Marine Biology Research Division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, and was also a founding member of the California Center for Algae Biotechnology.
Early in his career Hildebrand became a pioneer of advanced molecular biology approaches related to the study of diatoms, tiny algae known for their silica-based cell walls. His research opened new avenues for the study of diatoms as producers of valuable lipids, the same oils that can be used to make biofuels and a range of other useful products.
He was a fixture at national meetings of research leaders, and a mentor to countless students devoting their own studies to understanding algal biology and its potential to address global challenges.
In 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technology Office ranked his program as the top in the country for algal biofuels research.
He will be missed by the entire ABO membership.