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Jonathan Trent

Jonathan Trent

Director, OMEGA Global Initiative
Lead Scientist OMEGA Project, NASA Ames Research Center


I have had a long academic career and done research in marine science, microbiology and cell biology, medicine, nanotechnology, engineering, and environmental sciences. I have had various affiliations with outstanding institutions: graduate school at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry, and positions or affiliations at the University of Copenhagen, University of Paris at Orsay, Boyer Center for Molecular Medicine at Yale Medical School, Argonne National Lab, NASA Ames Research Center, University of California Santa Cruz, Tokyo University Agriculture and Technology, and the California Academy of Science. After all this, my legacy project is "OMEGA (Offshore Membrane Enclosures for Growing Algae)." OMEGA is an integrated "life-support" system for Spaceship Earth--an "ecology of technologies" in which wastes from one part of the system are resources for another part. It combines algae cultivation for biofuel, wastewater treatment, and carbon capture, with electricity and heat generation by solar, drinking water production by osmosis, and food production by aquaculture. It expands our sphere of influence into coastal waters, but mitigates our impact on coastal ecosystems, while preparing future generations for sea-level rise. OMEGA is work-in-progress with many remaining challenges, but the goals are of critical importance: sustainable energy, water and food availability, and mitigation of our environmental impact. To find out about progress on OMEGA, please watch my TED talk and consider if this technology is appropriate for you and your country, keeping in mind that with >7 billion people in the world: "We are not passengers on Spaceship Earth, we are the crew."

Research Interest

Marine science, microbiology and cell biology, medicine, nanotechnology, engineering, and environmental sciences.