Loyola University Chicago

Institute of Environmental Sustainability

Our People

Laura Brentner, PhD

Title/s: Lecturer

Office #: BVM 215

Phone: 773.508.3289

E-mail: lbrentner@luc.edu

CV Link: Brentner CV


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 --December 2008

  • BA in Biology and Environmental Science & Policy Worcester, MA
    Clark University--May 2003

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.
  • Certificate in Advanced Topics in Science Teaching, Graduate Teaching Center, Yale University, 2009.
  • Reviewer for the following journals: Environmental Science & Technology, International Journal of Phytoremediation, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, Applied Energy, Biotechnology and Bioengineering, International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, Journal of Cleaner Production
  • Board of Recommendation, Young Algaeneers Symposium 2012

Courses Taught

Through her teaching, she hopes to give students the tools they will need to address the environmental issues facing their generation with solutions that sustain into future generations. The issues they will need to address include climate change, water scarcity, food sustainability, energy sustainability, and protection of biodiversity.

Brentner teaches:

  • UCSF 137 The Scientific Basis of Environmental Issues
    A core, tier I scientific course required by all non-science majors that covers the topics of biodiversity, energy, water, food, and climate change.

  • ENVS 237 Foundations of Environmental Science II
    Second semester course for environmental science majors that focuses on the physical sciences of the environment, especially chemistry and thermodynamics to provide quantitative foundation.

  • UNIV 102 (First Year Research Experience) FYRE Seminar
    Single credit course covering basic skills for understanding research.

  • ENVS 227r Ecology of the Mediterranean (John Felice Rome Center, Rome, Italy)
    Tier II environmental science course examining environmental issues across the history of the Mediterranean Sea and its interactions with humans.



  •  Principal Investigator, National Science Foundation International Research Fellowship Program. OISE-1064672, Systems analysis for large-scale production of microalgae and investigation of nutrient and energy by-product recovery. October 2011-April 2013 ($123,000).
  • Project of the Year, SERDP-ESTCP Partners in Environmental Technology Technical Symposium. Washington, DC, December 1-3, 2009.
  • Best Poster in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Research Open House, College of Engineering, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA. April 20, 2006.

Selected Publications

  • Posada, JD; Brentner, LB; Ramirez, A; Patel, MK;. 2016. Conceptural 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.
  • Beach, ES; Eckelman, MJ; Zheng, Cui; Brentner LB; Zimmerman, JB. 2012. Preferential technological and life cycle environmental performance of chitosan flocculation for harvesting of the green algae Neochloris oleoabundans . Bioresource Technology 121:445-449.
  • Brentner, LB. 2011. Bioenergy as a green technology frontier. Ed. Sanghi, Rashmi. The Role of Chemistry in Greening the Environment. Scrivener Publishing, LLC; Salem, MA.
  • 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.