Student Profile

Beth Papanek
Class of '11

Beth Papanek is a 2011 graduate of the program.  As a student, she worked in Dr. Hans Blaschek’s laboratory and did consulting work with Illinois Business Consulting.  She is now a PhD candidate at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and works in the Office of Industrial Partnerships and Economic Development at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  Beth says that because of the Illinois PSM, “I have been taken much more seriously and got to jump in right away because I did have some business background.  I am working with a startup company that I will hopefully become CEO of once I graduate.  The parent company said specifically how rare and useful it is to have someone who understands the technical side of things, but can also really speak to the business interests.”


Bridging science and business to meet sustainable energy demand is the purpose of the Bioenergy program. 

The world has reached a turning point in energy production. As consumption rises, so does the demand for cleaner, renewable energy. The University of Illinois is rising to the challenge.

The Illinois Professional Science Master’s in bioenergy centers on advanced and innovative methods of energy production. Bridging science with business, the program blends the technology and science of biofuels with the business skills necessary to transfer scientific knowledge to practical application.

The Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL) at Illinois leads the way in bioenergy research and education. Built on Illinois’ expertise in energy and sustainability, IBRL is committed to bioenergy R&D and to creating a well-educated scientific and technical workforce in bioenergy and related biosciences. The Illinois PSM in bioenergy is a key component of IBRL's mission.


As bioenergy technologies grow, so do bioenergy career opportunities. The Illinois PSM in bioenergy provides excellent preparation for careers in advanced cellulosic ethanol bio-refineries. Careers in the bioenergy life cycle — from feedstock supply to biofuel transportation and distribution — are also attractive options for bioenergy graduates. Bioenergy scientists, managers, and engineers with leadership, entrepreneurship, technology management, and other business skills will be well-prepared for positions of significant responsibility.


The bioenergy PSM allows students to tailor their courses to their professional goals.  Students have the opportunity to take classes in the following specialty areas:

  • plants, soils, and feedstocks;
  • production, processing, and use;
  • environment, economics, policy & law; and
  • tools and methods.

For additional information or to discuss your learning and career objectives, contact Ann Jones, recruiting contact for bioenergy, at or (217) 244-0731.


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