2023 RBI Spring Workshop Experience From a Student's Perspective - Part 4

William Berkey with his poster at the 2023 RBI Spring Workshop on Innovations in packaging and the circular economy

William Berkey at the 2023 RBI Spring Workshop on Innovations in Packaging and the Circular Economy

This is part four of the student experiences series. William Berkey, a Ph.D. candidate in chemistry shares his experience from the 2023 RBI Spring Workshop on "Innovations in Packaging and Circular Economy."


Tell us about yourself.

My name is William Berkey. I got my undergraduate degree in chemistry from Davidson College in North Carolina. I am getting my Ph.D. in chemistry at Georgia Tech. I am co-advised by Stefan France and Christopher Jones. I work on the upcycling of carbohydrates to yield furan-containing building blocks as platforms chemicals and precursors to value-added fuels, materials, and products. Specifically, I work with the Garcia Gonzalez reaction and the Achmatowicz reaction. 

The paper I just published as the second author with my mentor Caria Evans (first author) is about converting amino acids — a renewable feedstock — to functionalities pyrroles that can be used for drug molecule development or other bio-active compounds.

How was your experience at the RBI workshop?

I really enjoyed the RBI workshop. It was interesting to see other people’s research and talk with fellow researchers on solving problems and potentially collaborating. The diverse set of talks from industrial, government, and research collaborators shows the wide set of problems still to be solved and different viewpoints on how to solve them. My main takeaway is that through collaboration, solutions to a wide range of problems affecting the industry can be achieved. 

What was your main takeaway from the poster session? 

What stood out during the poster session was the wide variety of topics that my peers were researching and the interesting findings they discovered. I interacted with several industrial representatives and a fellow Davidson alumnus who works in forest management. I received great advice on how to advance my research as well as how to pursue potential next steps in application. 

What more would you like to see in future events at the Renewable Bioproducts Institute?

I would like to see more talks on biorefining. I am interested in interacting with potential collaborators. I would like to see new seminars on research problem-solving or project idea creation.

News Contact

Priya Devarajan | Research Communications Program Manager, RBI