PULLMAN – A senior scientist with the one of world’s largest petroleum companies will visit the Pullman campus Friday to talk about alternatives to petroleum.

In a talk titled “Will We Drive on Biofuels?” Roger C. Prince, a researcher with ExxonMobil Biomedical Sciences, Inc., will discuss the potential of—and potential problems with—biofuels as substitutes for petroleum-based fuels. ExxonMobil is the only large oil company in the world not currently pursuing biofuel research.

The seminar, sponsored by Washington State University’s Center for Bioproducts and Bioenergy, will be held Dec. 7, at 4 p.m. in room 1002 of the Animal Disease Biotechnology Facility (ADBF). Members of the public are welcome to attend.

David Kramer, co-host of the seminar and a faculty member in WSU’s Institute of Biological Chemistry, said he expects the presentation to spark lively discussion and challenge common assumptions about the viability of biofuels asa substitute for petroleum-based fuels.

In recent years, biodiesel production has become a major focus of research attention at WSU and a growing segment of Washington’s agricultural economy. Biofuel production has also prompted concerns about increasing food costs, as agricultural lands are shifted from edible to fuel crops, and about the potential of biofuel crops such as giant reed grass to become invasive and destroy native ecosystems.

Prior to his current work on biofuels, Prince worked extensively in the field of bioremediation, the process of using microbes to help clean up oil spills. He was Exxon’s lead scientist monitoring bioremediation of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska. He has served on the National Research Council’s panel on marine biotechnology and is a member of the editorial boards of Bioremediation Journal and Environmental Science and Technology.