Creating Green Solutions

Our Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute leverages bioenergy crops to create green solutions for global challenges. Established in 2007 with a generous gift from the Jack C. Taylor family, the Enterprise Institute takes basic discoveries and creative ideas into the field, develops products, and stimulates commercialization in the private sector.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute

Innovating new solutions for energy production is critical to fueling our growing world with minimal impact to the environment.

Currently, the majority of the world is powered by coal, petroleum and natural gas. At our accelerating rate of consumption, these resources will not be recreated in our lifetimes. Not only do we have a limited supply, but the combustion of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide, a leading greenhouse gas and a major cause of climate change. Because of its limited supply and the danger to the environment, we need to innovate green solutions for powering our world.

  1. Discovery: Our scientists are exploring fundamental science about genes, enzymes, and systems that underlie production of food, fiber, and fuel in photosynthetic organisms.
  2. Innovation: Through cutting-edge research, we are developing new technology and taking advantage of biodiversity to provide novel solutions.
  3. Translation: By translating discoveries into useful products or commercial applications, we can solve real problems and lower the environmental impact.

The Enterprise Institute awards an annual seed grant that funds novel ideas to promote and sustain the use of plants and algae regionally and globally to address environmental and economic challenges.


We want to improve the quality and biomass yield of grasses like corn and sorghum through alterations in metabolism and improved tolerance to environmental stress such as drought. These enhanced characteristics have the potential to increase plant growth in changing environments with fewer inputs, as well as to improve carbon capture.


We want to understand metabolic networks in order to enhance seed oil composition that can be readily processed into biodiesel or used for the generation of polymers, plastics, surfactants, detergents and adhesives.


We want to unlock the secrets of growth, reproduction, and development of algae to improve the efficiency of biomass accumulation and tolerance to heat, drought, or nutrient stresses.

Team Members

Doug Allen, PhD

USDA Research Scientist, Associate Member

Ivan Baxter, PhD

Associate Member

Andrea Eveland, PhD

Assistant Member

Noah Fahlgren, PhD

Director, Data Science Facility

Toni Kutchan, PhD

Member, Oliver M. Langenberg Distinguished Investigator

Christopher Topp, PhD

Associate Member

James Umen, PhD

Member, Joseph Varner Distinguished Investigator

Sam Wang, PhD


Ru Zhang, PhD

Assistant Member