WSU professor receives Fulbright-Tocqueville Distinguished Chair Award to build bioeconomic partnerships

Closeup of Bin Yang
Professor Bin Yang will work in Toulouse, France, in 2025 through a newly announced Fulbright-Tocqueville Distinguished Chair Award.

Collaborating with European scientists to develop ideas, fuels, and products that solve global environmental and energy challenges, Washington State University Professor Bin Yang is headed to Toulouse, France, as the newly announced recipient of the Fulbright-Tocqueville Distinguished Chair Award.

The award will fuel Yang’s work alongside colleagues at the Toulouse Biotechnology Institute, INSA Toulouse, expanding international partnerships for development of global decarbonization and biofuels and bioproducts production.

“I am grateful to the Fulbright Program for allowing me to expand on ideas and broaden ties between Washington state, the U.S., and France,” said Yang, a professor at WSU’s Department of Biological Systems Engineering. “It’s a great honor to work with European leaders in technology and sustainability at Toulouse and other partner institutions.”

The six-month exchange begins in spring 2025 and builds on existing collaboration between Yang and scientists at Toulouse, part of the France’s Institut National des Sciences Appliquees (INSA).

Working with European colleagues in the bioeconomy — economic areas embracing technologies like biomass to produce fuels and chemicals — Yang seeks to make advances in energy and sustainability while promoting WSU research to the international scientific community.

Innovating together is the key to a better future for the world.

Bin Yang, professor
Washington State University

“Innovating together is the key to a better future for the world,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to develop a roadmap for the decarbonization of the bioeconomy between the United States and France, as well as the manufacture of products that serve the visions and goals of both countries.”

Yang’s laboratory at WSU Tri-Cities focuses on development of renewable energy technologies, with an emphasis on production of biofuels and chemicals from cellulosic biomass: plant materials grown as crops or harvested as agricultural waste. He recently pioneered new pretreatment and manufacturing technologies to process biomass into jet fuel, bioplastics, carbon fiber, hydrogen carriers, and other bioproducts.

This is Yang’s second Fulbright Distinguished Chair award. In 2019, he traveled to Helsinki, Finland, as the first professor at WSU to be selected for the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Energy and Sustainable Use of Natural Resources Award.

“Bin Yang’s accomplishments have made him an international leader for development of the bioeconomy,” said Jean Marie François, professor of industrial microbiology and bio-nanotechnology and Yang’s host at Federal University Toulouse. “Recent awards recognize his pioneering contributions to the next generation biorefinery, sustainability, and green technologies that can overcome climate change. His upcoming visit is a great opportunity for students in our biochemical engineering and international master in bioeconomy programs and will significantly improve cooperation between our two institutions.”

The Fulbright Program awards distinguished chairs to renowned scholars set apart by significant experience and extensive publications in their fields. Yang is the first professor at WSU to receive the Fulbright-Tocqueville Distinguished Chair Award.

The most prestigious award offered by the Fulbright France bilateral program, this distinguished chair was created in 2005 to mark Senator J. William Fulbright’s centennial and Alexis de Tocqueville’s bicentennial. Funded by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research and the Fulbright Program, it reinforces collaborative research between France and the United States on topics of major significance for the future of both societies.

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