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Morgan Family grant for biomass energy research

Mar 04, 2011

CONTACT: Catharine Lamm

The Morgan Family Foundation, of Los Altos, Cal., has committed $270,000 over the next two years to fund research at the Biomass Energy Center in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

The foundation's gift supports a project that will partner Penn State with Dartmouth, Iowa State, and Sustainable Conservation—an environmental stewardship organization.

Professor Lynd in his lab
Professor Lynd works in his biomass processing lab at Dartmouth

The Biomass Energy Center coordinates and facilitates bioenergy research and outreach, building teams to address the complete value chain of biomass energy systems. Biomass energy or "bioenergy" refers to the use of organic materials to generate electricity, produce biofuel, or create products normally made through non-organic methods.

According to Biomass Energy Center Director Tom Richard, the research team aims to address problems associated with increased demand for national biofuel production. Researchers will investigate innovative cropping systems that are productive in terms of food and fuel as well as sustainable in terms of environmental, economic, and social impacts. Specific project goals include designing next-generation farming systems to increase food and biomass productivity while enhancing ecosystem services in existing agricultural landscapes, and evaluating the potential for these systems to provide both food and significant amounts of renewable energy for society.

The team will attempt the novel and proactive approach of using a site-specific farm simulation tool to develop sustainable cropping systems in various regions of the United States by including modifications such as cover crops and alternating annual and perennial crops.

Formed in 1993 by Becky and Jim Morgan, the Morgan Family Foundation is a private family foundation focusing its giving on youth, education, the environment, and stewardship. The Morgans' daughter, Dr. Mary M. Finegan, is a 1986 graduate of Dartmouth. Her husband, John Finegan, a foundation board member and 1979 graduate of Penn State, was instrumental in directing the foundation's gift to the Biomass Energy Center.

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