Morgan Family Foundation funds research in bio-energy

December 03, 2008

University Park, Pa. -- The Morgan Family Foundation, of Los Altos, Cal., has committed $270,000 over the next two years to fund research at the Biomass Energy Center in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

The Biomass Energy Center coordinates and facilitates bioenergy research and outreach across the University, building teams to address the complete value chain of biomass energy systems. Biomass energy or "bioenergy" refers to the use of organic materials to generate electricity, produce biofuel, or create products normally made through nonorganic methods.

The foundation's gift supports a project that will partner Penn State with Dartmouth College, Iowa State University, and the environmental stewardship organization, Sustainable Conservation.

According to Biomass Energy Center Director Tom Richard, the project team will address problems associated with increased demand for national biofuel production. Researchers will investigate innovative cropping systems that are productive in terms of food and fuel as well as sustainable in terms of environmental, economic, and social impacts. Specific project goals include designing next-generation farming systems to increase food and biomass productivity while enhancing ecosystem services in existing agricultural landscapes, and evaluating the potential for these systems to provide both food and significant amounts of renewable energy for society.

The team will attempt the novel and proactive approach of using a site-specific farm simulation tool to develop sustainable cropping systems in various regions of the United States by including modifications such as cover crops and alternating annual and perennial crops.

Formed in 1993 by Becky and Jim Morgan, the Morgan Family Foundation is a private family foundation focusing its giving on youth, education, the environment, and stewardship. John Finegan, the Morgans' son-in-law and a foundation board member, was instrumental in directing the foundation's gift to the Biomass Energy Center. Finegan received his bachelor's degree in horticulture from Penn State in 1979, created the Ray Finegan Leadership Endowment in the College of Agricultural Sciences in honor of his father in 1997, and also has supported the Arboretum at Penn State.

For more information about the Morgan Family Foundation, visit their Web site at online.

Sustainable Conservation ( aims to advance the stewardship of natural resources using innovative, pragmatic strategies that actively engage businesses and private landowners in conservation.

Visit for more information about Penn State's Biomass Energy Center.

Last Updated May 18, 2012