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Mark Davis

Center Director Bioenergy Sciences | 303-384-6140
Orcid ID

Research Interests

Dr. Mark Davis is the Director for the Biosciences Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). For the past five years, he has served as the Platform Program Manager for Thermochemical and has directed research focused on developing pyrolysis and gasification processes to produce cost-effective fuels and products from biomass. Davis also coordinates the Enabling Technologies Focus Area activities for the BioEnergy Science Center, including high throughput recalcitrance assays, omics research, computational modeling, pretreatment research, and biomass characterization activities. His research group is currently focused on integrating multivariate statistical data analysis and spectroscopic methods such as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and pyrolysis-molecular beam mass spectrometry (pyMBMS) to follow changes in plant cell wall chemistry due to transgenic modification. The group developed NMR and pyMBMS methods to rapidly analyze cell wall chemistry and teamed with plant geneticists to use the results of these analyses to identify quantitative trait loci (QTLs) in populus, switchgrass, and loblolly pine. They have also developed several NMR methods to characterize pyrolysis oil and liquid products from lignin. Before coming to NREL, Davis was a staff spectroscopist at the National NMR facility at Colorado State University, developing novel experiments for both liquid and solid-state NMR spectroscopy. He has authored or co-authored more than 70 peer-reviewed publications and three book chapters.


  • Ph.D., Wood Science, Colorado State University, 1990

  • M.S., Physical Chemistry, Colorado State University, 1987

  • B.S., Chemistry, University of Cincinnati, 1981

Professional Experience

  • Director for the Biosciences Center, NREL, Golden, CO, 2015–present

  • Thermochemical Platform Program Manager, NREL, 2010present

  • Focus Area 3 Lead: Characterization and Modeling, BioEnergy Science Center, Oak Ridge, TN, 2012present

  • Group Manager, Chemical and Catalyst Sciences, NREL, 20082011

  • Characterization Activity Leader, BioEnergy Science Center, 20072011

  • Principal Section Supervisor, NREL, 20062008

  • Principal Scientist, NREL, 2004present

  • Senior Chemist II, NREL, 20042006

  • Adjunct Professor, Michigan Technological University, 2005present

  • Senior Chemist I, NREL, 19972004

  • Staff Chemist, NREL, 19951997

  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, NREL, 19931994

  • Staff Spectroscopist, National Center for NMR Applications, Colorado State University, 19831985 and 19881992

Featured Publications

  1. "Down-regulation of p-coumaroyl quinate/shikimate 3′-hydroxylase (C3′H) and cinnamate 4-hydroxylase (C4H) genes in the lignin biosynthetic pathway of Eucalyptus urophylla× E. grandis leads to improved sugar release," Biotechnol Biofuels (2015)

  2. "Lignin Valorization: Improving Lignin Processing in the Biorefinery," Science (2014)

  3. "Rapid determination of sugar content in biomass hydrolysates using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy," Biotech. Bioeng. (2013)

  4. "Laser Ablation with Resonance-Enhanced Multiphoton Ionization Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry for Determining Aromatic Lignin Volatilization Products from Biomass," Review of Scientific Instruments (2011)

  5. "Lignin Content in Natural Populus Variants Affects Sugar Release," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2011)

  6. "Increase in 4-Coumaryl Alcohol Units during Lignification in Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) Alters the Extractability and Molecular Weight of Lignin," Journal of Biological Chemistry (2010)

  7. "Can Delignification Decrease Cellulose Digestibility in Acid Pretreated Corn Stover?," Cellulose (2009)

  8. "Measuring the Crystallinity Index of Cellulose by Solid State 13C Nuclear Magnetic Resonance," Cellulose (2009)

  9. "Chapter 12: High Throughput Screening of Plant Cell Wall Composition Using Pyrolysis Molecular Beam Mass Spectroscopy," in Biofuels: Methods and Protocols. Methods in Molecular Biology (2009)

  10. "Within Tree Variability of Lignin Composition in Populus," Wood Science and Technology (2008)

  11. "Protonation of Carbon Single-Walled Nanotubes Studied Using 13C and 1H-13C Cross Polarization Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Raman Spectroscopies," Journal of the American Chemical Society (2005)

View all NREL Publications for Mark Davis.