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Laura Brentner, PhD

Title/s:  Advanced Lecturer

Specialty Area: General environmental science, environmental chemistry, environmental microbiology, bio-based products

Office #:  BVM 215

Phone: 773.508.3289



Brentner aims to develop sustainable environmental solutions using bio-based technologies. The overarching theme in her research is restoring and maintaining natural environmental systems while meeting the needs of an advancing global society through the utilization of renewable resources. 


  • PhD in Environmental Engineering and Science Iowa City, IA
    College of Engineering, The University of Iowa
  • BA in Biology and Environmental Science & Policy Worcester, MA
    Clark University

Research Interests

Brentner applies biological tools to address environmental issues, including protection of water resources, restoration of natural landscapes, bioenergy, and climate change. Her background in molecular biology and environmental engineering provides a strong scientific foundation, while her experience in environmental policy and life cycle assessment (LCA) afford her a unique perspective for developing bio-based technology as a tool for sustainability. Her ambition is to support the development of new bio-based technologies by understanding the underlying biological mechanisms and their interaction with the surrounding ecosystem.

For example, she applies her expertise in molecular biology to understand how the biological system can carry out the intended role, such as how changes in gene expression or enzyme activity enable an organism to detoxify a pollutant taken up from the environment. She has also applied environmental modeling, incorporating soil microbial communities and plant physiology, to predict how contaminants will move in natural systems and may potentially be treated by plants and microbes. She uses analytical techniques to observe how materials change in the environment and assess environmental quality. She uses LCA to evaluate potential environmental impacts associated with new technology systems and to compare new technologies to existing, conventional systems.  

Professional & Community Affiliations

  • Natural Area Steward, Columbus Park, Chicago Parks District. May 2016 – Current
  • Completed Integrated Course Design workshop, Center for Experiential Learning, Loyola University Chicago, 2016.
  • Certificate in Online Teaching, College of DuPage, 2015.

Courses Taught

  • ENVS 101: The Scientific Basis of Environmental Issues
  • ENVS 237: Foundations of Environmental Science II
  • UNIV 102: (First Year Research Experience) FYRE Seminar
  • ENVS 227r: Ecology of the Mediterranean (John Felice Rome Center, Rome, Italy)

Selected Publications

  • Posada, JD; Brentner, LB; Ramirez, A; Patel, MK;. 2016. Conceptual design of sustainable integrated microalgae biorefineries: Parametric analysis of energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and technoeconomics. Algal Research 17:113-131.
  • Draaisma, RB; Barbosa, MJ; Slegers, PM; Brentner, LB; Roy, A; Wijffels, RH. 2013. Food commodities from microalgae. Current Opinion in Biotechnology 24: 169-177.
  • Brentner, LB; Eckelman, MJ; Zimmerman, JB. 2011. Combinatorial Life Cycle Assessment to Inform Process Design of Industrial Production of Algal Biodiesel. Environmental Science & Technology, 45: 7060-7067.
  • Brentner, LB; Peccia, J; Zimmerman, JB. 2010. Challenges in developing biohydrogen as a sustainable energy source: implications for a research agenda. Environmental Science & Technology, 44(7):2243-2254.
  • Brentner, LB; Merchie, KM; Tanaka, S; Yoon, JM; Schnoor, JL; and Van Aken, B. 2008. Glutathione-S-transferases in poplars exposed to 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene. Chemosphere, 73(5):657-662.

For a complete list of awards, publications and affiliations, please request her CV.