The projections show that feeding a world population of 9.1 billion people in 2050 would require raising overall food production by some 70 percent between 2005 and 2050. This will only be possible by applying unconventional highly innovative new technology.

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Prof. Ting Lu’s research focuses on microbial synthetic biology, which harnesses engineered gene circuits for programing microbial cell functionality. On receiving the prize, he tells us “As bioengineers, we are called to use science and technology in service of humanity by improving human health and nutrition. While we have generated exciting results, there is still a long way to go from concept demonstration to real-world applications. With the prize, we can pursue high-risk, high-return ideas that can be potentially transformative.”

Prof. Steve Techtmann’s research is in the field of environmental microbiology. “Inside microbes are gene circuits that behave as machinery for manufacturing. A lot of what we are trying to do is see how life exists and what we can learn from life in the environment and use that to solve problems like environmental contamination or food shortages. To be able to pursue interesting angles of research that can have major advances is something this award will allow us to do. I think that’s really exciting.”