fresh funds

UH team lands grant to study how to protect crops from climate change

A Houston research team has scored nearly $100,000 to continue work on food crop protection. Photo via

A team of researchers at the University of Houston has received a $995,805 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to uncover new ways to protect the world’s food crops from climate change.

The research is being led by Abdul Latif Khan, assistant professor of plant biotechnology at the UH Cullen College of Engineering’s Division of Technology, as the project’s principal investigator. He's joined by other researchers from UH and Texas A&M on the research.

The team will begin performing experiments in Houston next month that focus on two main objectives: "To improve plant growth and build plants’ resistance against climate change,” Khan said in a statement from UH.

They plan to develop novel tools for the agriculture industry as well as new, affordable, easy-to-use methods that safeguard the soil systems and prevent farmers from losing their land.

"We’re exploring two approaches," Khan says in a statement. "One is to adopt naturally relevant systems, the other involves synthetic biology or genetic engineering approaches to producing food.”

Plant biologist Abdul Latif Khan is the project’s principal investigator. Photo via

The team will also use the funding to build a new curriculum for students, particularly those who come from communities currently underrepresented among the agriculture industry’s leadership, according to UH.

“With this new project, we hope to expand opportunities in agricultural science and increase representation by opening doors for inspired scientists of many backgrounds,” Khan said.

According to UH, extreme weather events have an impact on the crops themselves, the makeup of soil for new or existing crops, and in turn a farmer’s income and the world's food supply.

"Climate change is affecting the entire earth, and it’s leaving us with less land to produce food," Khan added. "By the beginning of the next century, the world food demand will be almost 30 percent to 35 percent higher than what we are growing now. To reach that higher level, we will need novel tools in our agriculture system."

Last month, two UH professors were named as fellows to the National Academy of Inventors, one of whom was recognized for her vital research leading to innovative solutions in the energy and industrial fields and becoming the first woman in the United States to earn a doctorate degree in petroleum engineering. UH now has 39 professors who are either Fellows or Senior Members of the NAI.

Trending News

A View From HETI

Houston energy transition folks — here's what to know to start your week. Photo via Getty Images

Editor's note: Dive headfirst into the new week with three quick things to catch up on in Houston's energy transition: a podcast episode with a biotech leader, a very big oil and gas deal, and events not to miss.

Big deal: ConocoPhillips to buy Marathon Oil for $17.B in all-stock deal

ConocoPhillips is buying Marathon Oil in an all-stock deal valued at approximately $17.1 billion as energy prices rise and big oil companies reap massive profits.

The deal to combine the two Houston-headquartered companies is valued at $22.5 billion when including $5.4 billion in debt.

Crude prices have jumped more than 12% this year and the cost for a barrel rose above $80 this week. Oil majors put up record profits after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and while those numbers have slipped, there has been a surge in mergers between energy companies flush with cash. Continue reading.

Podcast to stream: Carlos Estrada, head of Venture Acceleration at BioWell, joins the Houston Innovators Podcast

Bioindustrial technologies have a high potential for impacting sustainability — but they tend to need a little bit more help navigating the startup valley of death. That's where the BioWell comes in.

Carlos Estrada, head of Venture Acceleration at BioWell, says the idea for the accelerator was came to First Bight Ventures, a Houston-based biomanufacturing investment firm, as it began building its portfolio of promising companies.

"While we were looking at various companies, we found ourselves finding different needs that these startups have," Estrada says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "That's how the opportunity for the BioWell came about." Continue reading.

Events not to miss

Put these Houston-area energy-related events on your calendar.

  • The Energy Drone & Robotics Summit is coming to Houston June 10 to 12. Join for the ultimate event in the world for UAVs, Robotics & Data/AI, 3D Reality Capture, Geospatial and Digital Twins focused on the business and technology in energy & industrial operations, inspections, maintenance, surveying & mapping. Register now.
  • Argus Clean Ammonia North America Conference will take place on June 12 to 14 at the Hyatt Regency Houston. Over the three days of the conference, explore the big questions many producers are facing around where demand is coming from, expect to hear perspectives from key domestic consumers as well as international demand centres for clean ammonia. Register now.
  • Join the over 150 senior energy and utilities leaders from June 17 to 18 in Houston for AI in Energy to unlock the potential of AI within your enterprise and delve into key areas for its development.Register now.
  • Energy Underground (June) is a group of professionals in the Greater Houston area that are accelerating the Energy Transition that connect monthly at The Cannon - West Houston. Register now.

Trending News