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Bioenergy: Joe Pomerening Takes You There

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Joe Pomerening by Marilyn Burgess
Telling stories through video gets Joe out of the office.

Bioenergy is an unfamiliar concept to many. Cellular and systems biologist Joe Pomerening, 2014-16 Executive Branch Fellow, is helping people get to know and embrace it as a clean energy technology that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide renewable fuel and products. By bringing the concept to life, he also hopes to debunk myths such as the “food-versus-fuel” argument – the dilemma between using farmland and crops for biofuel versus food – and other presumed dangers of biofuels.

Prior to his fellowship, Pomerening wanted to help students get and embrace molecular biology through video podcasts. So in his spare time, he filmed, edited, and produced about 20 of them. The experience taught him the ins and outs of video production and challenged him to devise  the simplest ways to drive home complex concepts.

“The premise of my work at the Department of Energy (DOE) amplifies that sentiment: I want to ‘take you there’ as you watch a video, reveal the story from the people directly involved, and show evidence of the success of their efforts – possibly right where you live,” said Pomerening.

As a fellow in DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), he presented a project proposal to make short films reflective of BETO’s mission and efforts. “We set out to show firsthand how bioenergy and sustainability practices are incredibly diverse in the U.S., and that these efforts in bioenergy truly connect us as a nation.”

I cannot envision any other way a project like this could have happened without the AAAS fellowship, and the support and encouragement of the fellows that have been a part of my monumental experience thus far. 

Joe Pomerening
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Joe Pomerening (2) by Marilyn Burgess

 

Joe is often found behind a camera. 

A recent DOE video he produced, “Growing and Sustaining Communities with Bioenergy,” educates viewers about bioenergy and its potential in becoming a cost-competitive, sustainable way to fulfill the nation’s energy needs. Instead of relying on a group of consultants, Pomerening managed every facet of the project, from camera operation and lighting to conducting interviews and editing. This allowed any requested modification to be accomplished quickly on the fly.

“This project seeks to put an unscripted lens on the stakeholders directly involved in bioenergy – as well as upon the interests and concerns of the public,” Pomerening explained. “The people who are engaged on the ground level of bioenergy efforts often live only a community away from those who cast doubt on it. The best storytellers are those who are no different from the members of the audience you aim to reach.”