Alper Honored For Contributions to Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology

Dr. Hal Alper receives the SIMB Young Investigator Award from a SIMB representative at the conference awards banquet, Aug. 4.Dr. Hal Alper, associate professor and fellow of the Paul D. & Betty Robertson Meek Centennial Professorship, was recently honored with the 2015 Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (SIMB) Young Investigator Award at the society’s annual meeting in Philadelphia, Aug. 4. This award recognizes the most impactful young scientist in the area of industrial microbiology and biotechnology. This is a unique distinction for UT Austin as this is the first time a UT faculty member has received this honor.

Alper was recognized for his creative and impactful contributions in developing tools of metabolic engineering and synthetic biology for the renewable production of chemicals and fuels. In the course of his work, he has authored over 60 peer-reviewed publications and eight book chapters.  The translation of this work to industry is evident as his research has led to two patents and 10 patent applications in recent years, with four of these already licensed to companies.  This award highlights these collective accomplishments.

“It is an honor to be recognized by SIMB with this award that highlights the impact we are having on the field of industrial biotechnology,” Alper said.  “This award also resonates with our laboratory mission of engineering biology to produce biomolecules, fuels and pharmaceuticals.”

The Alper laboratory works at the frontier of metabolic engineering, synthetic biology and cell engineering with the aim to create technologies that enable biofuel and biochemical production from renewable resources. For example, his research group has created yeast strains capable of producing significant quantities of oils that may be used for fuels and chemicals applications. He has also established novel proteins and enzymes that enhance the prospects of producing fuels from biomass.  Finally, his group is also active in establishing new synthetic, genetic tools for controlling the expression of genes in fungal systems.

Beyond this award, Dr. Alper has been recently recognized for his contributions to research and teaching through the UT Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award (2012), the Biotechnology and Bioengineering Daniel I.C. Wang Award (2013), the Jay Bailey Young Investigator Award in Metabolic Engineering (2014), and the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2014).

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