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Miguel García Guerrero receives 7th “Javier Benjumea Puigcerver” Research Prize from the University of Seville, the Social Council and the Focus-Abengoa Foundation

March 8, 2010

Seville, 8 March 2010.- Miguel García Guerrero, Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Seville, today received the 7th "Javier Benjumea Puigcerver" Research Prize for his contribution to the use of microalgae biotechnology for resolving industrial, energy and environmental related problems, in the work entitled "Development of processes of industrial, energy and environmental interest based on microalgae".

The jury of the 7th edition of the Prize acknowledged the important contributions that his research makes “in fields of economic interest, such as obtaining pigments or colorants; and of environmental interest, in the methodology of CO2] absorption, technology for producing biofuels, etc.”. The jury also said that Professor García Guerrero’s contributions “are an excellent example of how a basic understanding of the problems in which his research is involved can give rise to practical applications that have a clear commercial interest”.

The prize was presented today at a ceremony held in the auditorium of the University of Seville, attended by a large group of academics and researchers and presided by María Luisa García, president of the Social Council (Consejo Social) of the University of Seville; Joaquín Luque, Vice-chancellor of the University, and Felipe Benjumea Llorente, chairman of the Focus-Abengoa Foundation.

The publication of the work by Federico París Carballo that received last year’s prize was also presented at the ceremony, entitled "Study of the Damage Mechanisms in Compound Materials".

Professor Miguel García Guerrero has spent a large part of his extensive scientific career at the Institute of Plant Biochemistry and Photosynthesis, a mixed centre of the University of Seville and the Higher Council for Scientific Research, where he has worked on various aspects of photosynthesis through lines of basic and applied research, having achieved important scientific and technical advances that have consolidated his national and international standing and reputation.

His latest research on the industrial, energy and environmental uses of microalgae biotechnology have focused on four main areas: the production of carotenoids, antioxidant pigments with commercial uses; the elimination of carbon dioxide; the production of biofuel precursors, and the photoproduction of ethanol. This research has established and defined the best lines for microalgae and cyanobacteria, as well as systems and strategies for cultivating them, having also determined the optimal operating conditions for a variety of processes based on microalgae aimed at producing composites that are of industrial and energy interest, as well as how to capture and fix CO2].

The results of his work have featured in more than one hundred prestigious specialist publications and have given rise to various patents, some of then licensed by Spanish companies. Miguel García Guerrero has directed more than a dozen doctorate theses, he has co-authored three books and has written various chapters in more than 20 other works.

This award, in which the Social Council of the University, the Focus Abengoa Foundation and the University of Seville all participate, consists of an award of 18,000 Euros, a diploma and the publication of his work, and is designed to acknowledge the work carried out by researchers within the university community (doctors, graduates or diploma holders) who participate in research projects that address the research and development needs of companies and entities. The conditions for the prize stipulate that research work must be in the areas of scientific and technical knowledge of the University of Seville, as well as other criteria such as the quality of the work, its scientific interest to companies and society, and the usefulness and interest of the research in relation to the socio-economic and business environment of the University.

The jury consisted of María Luisa García, President of the Social Council; Concepción Horgué Baena, Secretary General of the University of Seville; Manuel García León, Vice-rector for Research; Luis Uruñela Fernández, member of the Social Council, and José Domínguez Abascal and Juan Antonio Carillo Salcedo, representatives of the Focus-Abengoa Foundation.

Social Council

The Council is the participatory body for society in the University, whose functions include promoting the relevance of the range of courses and activities to Andalusian society. According to its regulations, the functions of the Council are divided into three areas: Economic-financial, which includes powers to approve and fund the university’s budgets, rates and public fees, etc; Academic, which encompasses the approval of new qualifications and the rules of attendance for students, among other issues; and Social Relations, with functions to promote agreements and the sponsorship and collaboration of society in the financing of the University.

The Social Council of the University of Seville decided to promote the “Javier Benjumea Puigcerver” Research Prize in order to continue the memory of such an illustrious person from Seville society who was awarded an Honoris Causa Doctorate from the University of Seville.

Focus-Abengoa Foundation

The Focus-Abengoa Foundation was started in 1982 as a result of the cultural work begun in 1972 by Abengoa with the publication of the works Temas Sevillanos (Themes of Seville) and Iconografía de Sevilla (Iconography of Seville). A collection of documents, books and engravings on the Kingdom of Seville or by Sevillian authors was created at the same time. This initial cultural work showed Abengoa’s directors the importance of the company’s involvement in activities that directly benefit society, beyond its core technology based work, which led to the creation of the Seville Cultural Fund Foundation.

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