Research Interests: Prof. Ahner’s current energy-related research is focused on the growth and use of algae biomass. Algae can extract dilute nutrients from waste water, efficiently fix CO2 and simultaneously produce valuable products including biofuel and protein for animal feed. Optimization of algae biomass production in ponds or reactors requires diagnostic tools to interrogate various aspect of algae physiology; these tools range from rapid detection of intracellular lipid content of individual cells to RNA-based detection of specific biochemical stress responses. In one on-going project we are developing a new set of RNA-based bioassays that could be used to improve production systems. We are also working on the production of new transgenic strains of algae that will simultaneously produce high value proteins. The functional proteins will provide added benefits to the use of algae protein in feed markets.