Tom L. Richard, Ph.D.

Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering


    Lignocellulosic biomass conversion
    Manure conversion
    Sustainable agriculture



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    About Me


    Dr. Richard's Bioconversion Research Group applies fundamental engineering science to microbial ecosystems, developing innovative strategies for a more sustainable agriculture and the emerging bio-based economy. Our particular emphasis is on microbial processes that occur in three-phase porous media, where solid, liquid, and gas phases all play critical roles. These porous media systems are referred to variously as:

    1. solid-state fermentation in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and food processing industries;
    2. composting in the manure management and solid waste realms,
    3. ensilage on dairy and beef cattle farms, and
    4. soils in agroecosystems.

    The complexity of these systems lies not only in their immediate physical, chemical, and biological dimensions, but also in the human and natural systems within which they are embedded. Understanding and improving the performance of these microbial processes demands a multi-dimensional perspective and invites interdisciplinary collaboration.

    Research themes

    Current sponsors include the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

    For those who might be interested, my Ph.D. dissertation is available on-line:
    Richard, T.L. 1997. The Kinetics of Solid-State Aerobic Biodegradation. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY


    We are pleased that our research has proven useful to businesses, schools, citizens and policymakers. The following links illustrate some of these contributions:

    Our group is also active in advancing the emerging discipline of Biological Engineering, though organizations like the Institute of Biological Engineering (IBE), the Journal of Biological Engineering (JBE), the international Genetically Engineered Machines competition (iGEM), and opensourcing our lab with Openwetware.


    • B E 464 - Biomass Energy

    For information about courses please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog.


    • Bukowski, N., J.L. Pandey, L. Doyle, T.L. Richard, C.T. Anderson and Y. Zhu. 2015. Development of a clickable designer monolignol for interrogation of lignification in plant cell walls. Bioconjugate Chemistry. In press.
    • Malcolm, G.M., G.G.T. Camargo, V.A. Ishler; T.L. Richard and H.D. Karsten. 2015. Energy and greenhouse gas analysis of northeast U.S. dairy cropping systems. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 199:407-417.
    • Dale, B.E., J.E. Anderson, R.C. Brown, S. Csonka, V.H. Dale, G. Herwick, R.D. Jackson, N. Jordan, S. Kaffka, K.L. Kline, L.R. Lynd, C. Malmstrom, R.G. Ong, T.L. Richard, C. Taylor and M.Q. Wang. 2014. Take a closer look: Biofuels can support environmental, economic and social goals. Environmental Science and Technology. DOI: 10.1021/es5025433.
    • Camargo, G.T.T., M.R. Ryan and T.L. Richard. 2013. Energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from crop production using the Farm Energy Analysis Tool. Bioscience 63(4):263:273.
    • Feyereisen, G.W., G.T.T. Camargo, R.E. Baxter, J.M. Baker and T.L. Richard. 2013. Cellulosic biofuel potential of a winter rye double crop across the U.S. corn-soybean belt. Agronomy Journal 105(3):631-642.
    • Glanville, T.D., H.K. Ahn, T.L.Richard, J.D. Harmon, D.L.Reynolds, and S.Akinc. 2013. Effect of envelope material on biosecurity during emergency bovine mortality composting. Bioresource Technology 130:543–551.
    • Tanjore, D., T.L. Richard and M.N. Marshall. 2012.Experimental methods for laboratory-scale ensilage of lignocellulosic biomass. Biomass and Bioenergy 47:125-133.
    • Chen, Q., M.N. Marshall, S.M. Geib, M. Tien and T.L. Richard. 2012. Effects of laccase on lignin depolymerization and enzymatic hydrolysis of ensiled corn stover. Bioresource Technology 117:186-193.
    • Speer, M.A. and T.L. Richard. 2011. Amplified insert assembly: an optimized approach to standard assembly of BioBrick™ genetic circuits. Journal of Biological Engineering 5:17.
    • Lee, R.L., R.A. Aziz, C.H. de Brito Cruz, A.F.A. Chimphango, L.A.B. Cortez, A. Faaij, N. Greene, M. Keller, P. Osseweijer, T.L. Richard, J. Sheehan, A. Chugh, L. van der Wielen, J. Woods, and W.H. van Zyl. 2011. A global conversation about energy from biomass: the continental conventions of the global sustainable bioenergy project. Interface Focus 1(2):271-279.
    • Baxter, R., G. Feyereisen, Y. Yu, and T.L. Richard. 2011. Winter crop and residue biomass potential in China. Biofuels 2(5):503-513.
    • Durre, P and T. Richard. 2011. Microbial energy conversion revisited. Current Opinion in Biotechnology 22(3): 309-311.
    • Richard, T.L. 2010. Challenges in scaling up biofuels infrastructure. Science 329: 793 – 796.


    B.S. Political Economy of Natural Resources, University of California, Berkeley, 1978 M.S. Agricultural Engineering, Cornell University, 1987 Ph.D. Biological Engineering, Cornell University, 1997