Hal Alper Receives Naval Research Young Investigator Award

Dr. Hal AlperHal Alper, assistant professor of chemical engineering at the Cockrell School of Engineering, has received an Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator Program award for his proposal titled “Establishing a Fungal Platform for Alkane Biosynthesis.” Alper was selected from more than 270 applicants for “compelling research that has potential to deliver innovative naval science and technology.”

Alper will receive more than $510,000 in total to continue his study on alkane biosynthesis, which will be awarded over three years as $170,000 annual research grants. As part of the ONR Young Investigator Program, the Department of the Navy awarded a total of $10.8 million to engineers and scientists at 18 academic institutions. Alper is one of 21 young scientists and engineers.

“This is an extremely competitive award with only 21 recipients this year in all fields of science and engineering,” said Roger T. Bonnecaze, the T. Brockett Hudson Professor and department chair of chemical engineering. “This award will enable Alper to pursue his innovative ideas for the production of biofuels. His receipt of the ONR Young Investigator Award, among many other grants since coming to The University of Texas, confirms the promise we saw when we hired him a few years ago. We are very proud of his accomplishments.”

Alper’s research involves the engineering of cells to produce chemicals such as biofuels, pharmaceuticals and other industrial chemicals. In the process, he focuses on using different cellular systems to produce these chemicals by using generic methods developed in his lab.

Alper received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Maryland and a doctorate in chemical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research findings have been published in several technical articles and highly cited journals including Science, Nature, Biotechnology and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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