WVSU Receives $300,000 National Science Foundation Grant for Bioenergy Research

Contact: Kimberly Osborne
(304) 766-3363
July 13, 2016
WVSU Receives $300,000 National Science Foundation Grant for Bioenergy Research

INSTITUTE, W.Va. -- West Virginia State University (WVSU) has received $300,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to research seed storage compounds and bioenergy with the goal of enhancing crop growth on reclaimed surface mine lands.

“This National Science Foundation grant enables important research conducted right here in the heart of the Kanawha Valley to potentially address food sustainability and nutrition around the globe,” said Dr. Anthony L. Jenkins, President of West Virginia State University. “It is yet another example of the University’s research capabilities and showcases our tradition of serving our fellow friends and neighbors—both near and far.”

The competitive grant award will provide hands-on research and training for six undergraduate students and establish a collaborative partnership for faculty and graduate students with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

"The National Science Foundation is a very competitive funding agency, and thus receiving such a grant is a recognition of both the caliber of scientists at State and the merit of the research being conducted,” said Dr. Orlando F. McMeans, WVSU’s vice president for research and public service. “The bioenergy-based research proposed in this grant endeavors to not only address the need for alternative fuels, but it also can contribute to the nutritional needs of a growing global population." 

The United Nations predicts that by the year 2050, the world’s population will grow by more than 9 billion, resulting in the need for an enhanced system of food production and supply. Therefore, the project is focused on creating robust, high-energy crops for changing environments, such as reclaimed surface mine lands.

“This research will advance knowledge in the field of plant biotechnology by characterizing for the first time previously unidentified mechanisms regulating seed storage compounds and unlock new and creative avenues for enhancing molecular engineering of plant crops,” said Dr. Sanjaya, director of WVSU’s Energy and Environmental Science Institute and the project’s lead scientist.

Sanjaya hopes the research will ultimately attract industry and academic partners to the region, enhancing economic development and workforce opportunities.

WVSU launched the Energy and Environmental Science Institute in 2014 with the mission of enhancing the University’s capacity to participate in evolving opportunities in energy and environmental research, teaching and outreach.

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West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multigenerational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
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