Lexington, Ky. (Feb. 1, 2010) -- Journalists from Germany, China and Japan today toured laboratories at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) for briefings by scientists on the center's ongoing research.
The 10 journalists, participating in a U.S. State Department foreign press entourage, heard about projects in biofuels, power generation and pollution control, environmental and coal technologies, clean fuels and chemicals, and electrochemical power.
CAER Director Rodney Andrews and researchers Tom Robl, Mark Crocker, Jim Neathery and Burt Davis met with the journalists in their separate laboratories, providing project descriptions and progress evaluations and answering questions during the morning-long tour.
Andrews supplied a brief overview of energy issues raised by the group. Of the visit, he says, “These visits provide opportunities to explain technical issues to a broader public. These reporters write about energy issues in their home countries and throughout the world, and we appreciate this chance to educate them on what the state is doing to advance all types of energy research.”
The journalists then were taken directly to labs where research is being conducted and spoke with the researchers about their projects.
"The tour was better than I thought it would be. Too often, we get taken to classrooms and given lectures. This time, we were taken straight to the laboratories where we could interview the scientists and take pictures. It's best to see the technology than just being briefed," said Mit Obe, a journalist with Japan's JiJi.
"I was very, very impressed," Obe said.
In addition to Obe, the journalists were, from Germany, Nicole Markwald of ARD German Broadcasting, Christina Bergmann of Deutsche Welle radio, Markus Ziener of Handelsblatt, Joachim Rogge of Westdeutsche Zeitung and Ann-Kathrin Eckhardt and Christian Wernicke, both of Sueddeutsche Zeitung; and from China, Zhou Sun of China Business News and Lei yang and Xin Liu, both of Xinhua News Agency.
In addition to CAER, the journalists were scheduled to visit Tom Fitzgerald, an environmental activist who heads the Kentucky Resources Council; Tony Oppegard, an attorney formerly with the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration and the Kentucky Department of Mines and Minerals; Liang Hu of the 3H Co., a firm that focuses on carbon-dioxide capture technologies housed in UK's Advanced Science and Technology Commercialization Center; David Moss, vice president and director of government affairs for the Kentucky Coal Association; and Bruce Scott, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection.
The visit to Kentucky was being coordinated by Diane Page and Andrew Lewis of the State Department's Foreign Press Center. Coinciding with the one-year anniversary of President Obama's inauguration, the State Department's Foreign Press Center is coordinating tours to examine three pillars of the administration's domestic agenda: health care, education, and energy.
Lewis said Kentucky was chosen for this visit because of the ongoing controversy about coal and its impact on the environment. "More than 90 percent of Kentucky's energy comes from burning coal, and this tour is examining coal's role in a region almost entirely dependent on it," he said.