Celebrating the life and work of Mary Mandels


for Biofuels
has published a thematic
in recognition of the life and work of Mary Mandels.


Dr Mandels, who passed away in February 2008, spearheaded
the US Army’s national bioconversion studies for four decades, and was an early
proponent of efforts to convert biomass to useful products such as sugars and bio-ethanol
for eventual use in fuel and chemical production.

With the renewed advent and funding of biomass to biofuels
initiatives, Dr Mandels’ work with cellulase enzymes and the microbes that
produce them remains relevant to current research.

The series features an Editorial and Obituary
from friends and colleagues who worked in the field that Dr Mandels was instrumental
in pioneering.

Following this is a republication of a seminal article
by Mary Mandels and her collaborator Elwyn T. Reese, first published in 1976.
The paper describes an assay for measuring cellulose activity – a method widely
adopted at the time that is still used in research.

Also included is a previously unpublished commentary article
written by Dr Mandels herself, “Reflections on
the United States Military
”, a poignant commentary, written in 1987, on
joint ventures between the military and scientific establishments that has
relevance today.

To conclude the ‘first wave’ of publications in the
series, Christian
Kubicek and colleagues
both review recent developments in cellulase
biosynthesis and, in outlining strategies for the improvement of cellulase
production, look to the future of the field that Dr Mandels helped to

Further articles from authors working in the field will be
added to the series
over the coming months.

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