Changcheng Xu of Brookhaven Lab's Biology Department Granted Tenure

Changcheng Xu enlarge

Changcheng Xu

Brookhaven Science Associates (BSA), the company that manages Brookhaven Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy, granted tenure to this scientist and nine others since 2015. Tenure appointments are granted by action of the BSA Board after a rigorous selection procedure overseen by the BSA Science and Technology Steering Committee. Meet the other scientists.

Changcheng Xu, a biologist in Brookhaven Lab's Biology Department, was awarded tenure for his achievements in the field of plant lipid research, specifically in the areas of lipid trafficking between subcellular compartments and understanding the mechanisms of lipid homeostasis and oil accumulation in leaves.

“Changcheng’s career has been a series of seminal discoveries published in top-tier journals,” said Biology Department Chair John Shanklin. “His work is closely aligned with the Department of Energy’s Basic Energy Sciences’ mission to secure our energy future.”

Xu studies lipid triacylglycerols stored in plant cells. Plant oil represents an ideal renewable resource because it is carbon neutral and chemically similar to fossil fuels. It is carbon neutral because plants convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into lipids, which are then released back into the atmosphere when used as a fuel. While plant oil biofuel makes sense environmentally, its economic feasibility is critically dependent on its yield of oil per acre.

In that regard, Xu has made remarkable progress. Using Arabidopsis plants and Chlamydomonas cells, he deciphered many of the regulatory factors and underlying principles that control lipid synthesis, degradation, and storage. Xu also conducted studies demonstrating the feasibility of increasing oil storage in leaves, in addition to seeds, thereby increasing the percentage of the plant’s biomass that stores lipids. In separate work with Chlamydomonas, he dispelled the belief that algae only produce oil when lacking certain nutrients, further illuminating the possibility of using them for fuel.

Xu earned his Ph.D. from Shandong Agricultural University in China in 1996. He became the school’s youngest ever professor in 1994 and taught there until 1999. After postdoctoral training at Michigan State University, Xu joined Brookhaven Lab as an assistant biochemist in 2009. He became an associate biochemist in 2012 and a biochemist in 2014. Since 2011, he has also been an adjunct assistant research professor at Stony Brook University. Xu has filed three patents while at Brookhaven, and filed for another while at Michigan State University.

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