Initiative for Renewable Energy & the Environment
Global Landscapes Initiative
As the Institute on the Environment's scientific program coordinator for biofuels and the global environment, Sheehan's work focuses on the multifaceted question of biofuels and their sustainability as a future energy source. He is studying the direct and indirect consequences of biofuels production on land use around the world, along with other social, political and environmental aspects of biofuels.
Sheehan joined the University of Minnesota in February 2009, after spending nearly two decades working on biofuels. For 17 years, he worked as a project manager and analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. Initially trained as a biochemical engineer, he quickly developed an interest and expertise in the life-cycle assessment of biofuels. His published works include groundbreaking studies on the impacts of biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol technology.
While at NREL, Sheehan also led research on the production and conversion of algae to biofuels, a technology now receiving a great deal of attention. His 1998 report summarizing the Department of Energy's algae research is widely cited. In 2007 and 2008, Sheehan was the vice president of strategic planning and sustainable development at LiveFuels, Inc., an algae startup company in Menlo Park, Calif.
Sheehan grew up in Philadelphia, but has spent most of the past two decades in Colorado, where he and his wife raised their two sons. He is passionate about education, having spent 12 years as a three-times-elected member of a local Colorado school board. He is an amateur philosopher as well—an interest he indulges in as part of his sustainability studies.
To invite Sheehan to speak at your event, please email him directly.