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Metabolic Engineering - Purdue Awardee Image 2
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Metabolic Engineering - Purdue Awardee (Image 2)

July 1, 2010
Metabolic Engineering - Purdue Awardee (Image 2) John A. Morgan, assistant professor of chemical engineering, is one of three Purdue University engineers who were awarded the National Science Foundation's (NSF) most prestigious honor for outstanding young researchers, the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award. Morgan will use the $400,000, five-year CAREER award for research that could ultimately help scientists use plants and single-celled organisms, like algae, to create industrial chemicals, medicines and foods. Currently, most industrial chemicals are created using fossil fuels, which are being depleted, whereas plants and single-cell organisms that use photosynthesis are renewable resources. Morgan's research will include developing a mathematical tool and mass spectrometry methods to precisely measure the metabolism of a single-cell organism similar to algae. The ultimate goal is to make it possible to one day engineer such organisms so that they manufacture chemicals, pharmaceuticals and foods. Researchers must first, however, gain a better understanding of the organisms' complex metabolisms, which consists of hundreds of reactions, all having different rates. Using analytical methods known as gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, Morgan will study the organism's metabolism by tracing an isotope of carbon as it passes through numerous "metabolic pathways" inside the cells. (Date of Image: August 2007) [One of three related images. See Next Image.]