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Young receives 2012 DOE Early Career Award

In the third year of the Early Career Research Program managed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, a Vanderbilt engineering assistant professor is on the list of 68 recipients from 47 institutions announced last week.

The awards focus on areas of high priority for the nation and for DOE’s mission, supporting exceptional researchers during the critical stages of their formative work by funding their research for up to five years and $2.5 million. The grants are administered by the major program offices within the Office of Science.

Jamey D. Young

Jamey D. Young, chemical and biomolecular engineering department, has received an Early Career Award for his proposal entitled, “Enhancing metabolic flux to photosynthetic biofuels.”  His award is expected to be funded at a total of $750,000 over five years.  His proposal was selected by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research and the DOE Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.

Young will test new metabolic engineering approaches for maximizing carbon flux from carbon dioxide to biofuels in cyanobacterial hosts. Cyanobacteria, formerly known as photosynthetic blue-green algae, can be used as platforms for biofuel production due to their useful physiological properties such as relatively rapid growth rates and tolerance to extreme environments. However, cyanobacterial fuel productivity is currently too low for industrial feasibility.

Tools will be developed for analyzing carbon flux and engineering the metabolic pathways that result in biofuel production. This research will directly contribute to DOE’s mission by advancing toward production of renewable fuels that do not compete with agriculture.

This year’s 68 winners were chosen based on peer review by outside scientists unaffiliated with DOE, who considered more than 850 proposals submitted last fall. For more information, see DOE’s announcement at