John L Field

R&D Staff Member

John Field is a R&D Staff Member in the ORNL Bioresource Science & Engineering Group. He studies the performance of bioenergy systems at the intersection of ecosystem modeling, life cycle assessment, and sustainable land use planning. His expertise is in using process-based ecosystem models such as DayCent to evaluate the effect of biomass feedstock production on ecosystem carbon storage and greenhouse gas emissions. Much of his work has focused on bioenergy landscape design, including how feedstock production could be targeted on marginal lands to maximize environmental benefits. He has studied a variety of bioenergy feedstocks including:

  • Switchgrass and poplar (CBI project)
  • Corn stover
  • Winter oilseed crops (SPARC project)
  • Wood from trees killed by mountain pine beetle outbreaks in the Rocky Mountains (BANR project)
  • Rice husk (BIOCHARM project)

He also has interest in carbon-negative bioenergy systems, including biofuel production with carbon capture and storage, and pyrolysis and gasification systems that co-produce biochar. He has previously contributed to the Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report (SOCCR2) and the New Carbon Economy Consortium. His research has been highlighted in Nature Energy, Grist, and The Guardian

John was previously a research scientist at the Colorado State University Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory. He earned his PhD from Colorado State University Department of Mechanical Engineering, co-advised by Dr. Bryan Willson (Dept. of Mechanical Engineering) and Keith Paustian (Dept. of Soil & Crop Sciences). There he had the opportunity to collaborate with crop scientists, ecologists, and economists as a fellow in the Multidisciplinary Approaches to Sustainable Bioenergy NSF IGERT program. Prior to that, John received his BSc from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, and spent several years in the private sector doing R&D on small-scale solid oxide fuel cell power systems.

When John isn’t writing or coding, he likes to be hiking, camping, or skiing.   


2015    Sustainability Leadership Fellowship through the CSU School of Global Environmental Sustainability (SoGES)
2012    Outstanding Graduate Research Award, American Society of Agronomy (ASA) Environmental Quality Section: Biochar Community
2011    C2B2-Chevron Graduate Fellowship, Colorado Center for Biofuels and Biorefining