UNT professor receives grant for research that could lead to alternative energy use

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 - 17:16

DENTON (UNT), Texas – Kent Chapman, Regents Professor of biological sciences at the University of North Texas, has been awarded a $650,000 grant by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. The grant is part of ongoing funding from the DOE and will be used to study the cellular storage of lipids in plants.

Chapman, whose work focuses on both basic and applied aspects of the regulation of plant lipid metabolism, described his current research as “a project aimed at identifying the cellular machinery that regulates how lipids are packed inside of cells.”

“If you can harness that process, you should be able to package more lipids in plant tissues,” he said.

The project Chapman is working on, titled “Elucidating the Cellular Machinery for Lipid Storage in Plants,” is aimed at finding ways to produce oil in plant tissues other than seeds and fruits, such as leaves. The end goal is to produce this type of oil for sustainable real-life application for fuels, chemicals and other products.

Chapman said that the grant will assist he and his team in their research, both with indirect costs for using facilities at the university and for help with supplies and lab instrument use.

“What’s exciting about this project is that what you ultimately think it’s good for, so many other things can come out of it that you hadn’t anticipated,” he said. “That’s why people say basic science is the fuel for innovation, because new principles can be discovered.”

Chapman earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Lycoming College in Pennsylvania. He went on to earn a doctoral degree at Arizona State University and completed postdoctoral training at Louisiana State University before accepting a position as an assistant professor at UNT.

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