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Areas of Expertise

Courtney Payne is a senior research scientist with the Biomass Analysis Technology (BAT) team at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). As an analytical chemist she is expert in the execution and understanding of the NREL suite of Laboratory Analytical Procedures (LAPs) and has authored multiple procedures. She has developed improved and high-throughput methods associated with these LAPs and supervises the training of both internal and external clients.

Courtney developed and executes the Biomass Compositional Analysis Service Agreement program which was approved by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for standard compositional analysis services for third-party customers. In addition, she manages the biomass analysis sample pipeline and the work and data quality of eight technicians. In 2017, this equated to work with 67 DOE programs and external partners covering more than 70,000 individual analyses. For the past two cycles, the Analytical Development and Support project that supports this work was rated #1 (out of 39 projects) in the Bioenergy Technologies Office Peer Review for productivity and relevance.

Courtney is skilled in near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy and develops partial least squares (PLS) and principal component analysis models based on NIR spectroscopy and biomass compositional constituents. She was recognized as a “Key Contributor” to the success of NREL's technology transfer mission in the industry of biofuels through licensing of her NIR/PLS models. Most recently, she was awarded a Technology Commercialization Fund for “Transfer & Validation of NREL IP for Rapid Biomass Composition using Near-Infrared (NIR) Spectroscopy to Next-Generation Ultra Low-Cost NIR Spectrometers” with Dr. Ed Wolfrum.

Before joining NREL in 2007, Courtney was employed with Array Biopharma, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company in Boulder, Colorado. Her work as a synthetic organic chemist included developing novel pharmaceutical precursors for internal and collaborative projects through synthesis, method optimization, analytical identification, and purification.


 Professional Experience

  • Research Scientist, NREL, 2007–present

  • Research Associate, Array Biopharma, Inc., 1998–2007


Featured Publications

  1. "Quantitative trait loci for cell wall composition traits measured using near-infrared spectroscopy in the model C4 perennial grass Panicum hallii," Biotechnology for Biofuels (2018)

  2. "Evaluation of fifteen cultivars of cool-season perennial grasses as biofuel feedstocks using near-infrared," Agron. J. (2017)

  3. "Rapid Analysis of Composition and Reactivity in Cellulosic Biomass Feedstocks with Near-Infrared Spectroscopy," Biotechnology for Biofuels (2015)

View all NREL Publications for Courtney E. Payne.