Provost: Mizzou Advantage proposals to receive grants

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 | 9:42 p.m. CDT; updated 5:28 p.m. CDT, Thursday, May 6, 2010

COLUMBIA — Soon, it might be possible for Columbia to have more biofuel than before. A pair of researchers was one group of many who were awarded funding through the Mizzou Advantage program.

Gary Stacey, a plant sciences professor, works on his project called "Metagenomics Use at a Former Coal Mining Environment to Bio-Prospect for Enzymes with Applications to Sustainable Energy" with fellow researcher Melanie Mormile from Missouri University of Science and Technology.

This project is one of the 26 selected proposals that will boost MU's reputation under the Mizzou Advantage program. These proposals will receive grants totaling more than $900,000 from the school, MU Provost Brian Foster said in a news release Tuesday.

The grants included 15 "fellow proposals," similar to Stacey's research, and 11 "network proposals."

Meg Phillips, program coordinator of Mizzou Advantage, said network proposals bring participants from different departments and faculties together to work toward tangible goals and talk about issues.

Stacey said he likes that the grant allows for collaboration between universities.

Stacey and Mormile aim to isolate enzymes in a former coal site called "Red Lake," just north of Columbia at the Rocky Fork Lakes Conservation Area. These enzymes could be used to decompose bioenergy crops, such as switch grass, which generates a huge amount of biomass that can be converted to biofuel.

You can find all the recipients of the program, as well as more information at

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