At NREL, Ghirardi is involved in both basic and applied research, primarily in the area of biohydrogen and photosynthesis. She has extensive experience working with organisms that convert light into chemical energy and examining the methods by which these organisms can be used to produce economic, sustainable fuels.
“This fellowship is an honor,” Ghirardi said, “It’s a recognition of my accomplishments in photobiology throughout my career. To me, it represents an acknowledgment of my role in bringing to the public the importance of photosynthesis for alternative fuel generation.”
Ghirardi earned her Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley, where she studied the ability of plants to extract energy from sunlight. After three years at the Department of Agriculture, working on the turnover of proteins involved in photosynthesis, she came to NREL in 1991. Currently she is a principal scientist, an NREL Fellow, and a Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI) Fellow. She has authored more than 118 publications, holds four U.S. patents, and has been featured as an invited speaker in many national and international conferences.
Ghirardi’s past research involved the use of algae to photosynthetically generate hydrogen from water, a potentially efficient source of clean, renewable energy. Her current research is focused on understanding the role of alternative electron transport pathways in photosynthesis, and in deconvoluting the metabolic partners of a crucial redox enzyme-ferredoxin-in algal metabolism.