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Claflin University’s Kamal Chowdhury Receives Summer Fellowship for Biofuel Research at Penn State-Harrisburg

Jun 18, 2012

A world renowned geneticist, Claflin University Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Kamal Chowdhury has made remarkable strides with increasing the viability of biofuel and plant crop production.  Recently Chowdhury was selected to participate in a competitive faculty fellowship with the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates at Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg.

“I will work independently with research on biofuel feedstock in addition to working with PSU-Harrisburg faculty and students.  This will hopefully open up future collaborations and help me teach our students more effectively,” Chowdhury said of the eight-week program that started this month.

At PSU-Harrisburg this summer, Chowdhury will mentor four undergraduate students and two students from area high schools.  He will investigate avenues to produce biofuel feedstock from sugarcane, sorghum and camelina oils.

Primarily, Chowdhury has worked with sugarcane in an effort to produce cost-effective biofuel.

“This will be an excellent opportunity to inform others about the superlative research advances we are making at Claflin University,” he said.  “The ultimate goal is to produce biofuel from renewable biomass.”

Last summer, Chowdhury was selected for a faculty fellowship at Boston University to study plant growth with the goal of enhancing crop production.

Chowdhury arrived at Claflin in 2006 and has served as chair of the University’s Biology Department, which secured more than $9 million in external funding under his leadership.  He is responsible for bringing nearly $1 million in grant funding himself to the University over the past five years.

“I think Claflin University is a great place to work with a nice family environment,” he said.  “It is a great institution to conduct high-level research which allows me to pass that knowledge along to my students.”

Prior to joining the faculty at Claflin, Chowdhury served as a professor at the University of Georgia and the University of Florida.  He also worked with the United States Department of Agriculture as a research associate.  In addition, Chowdhury served in the private sector as a research group leader with International Paper Company, the world’s foremost paper, pulp and forest products company, and ArborGen, a leading forest biotechnology firm, as a senior scientist.

Chowdhury holds a doctorate in genetics from the University of Birmingham in England and a Master of Science degree in botany from the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh.  At Claflin, Chowdhury has conducted research on stress tolerant sugarcane for the development of biofuel and plant-made pharmaceuticals.

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