BROOKINGS | A South Dakota State University administrator has been appointed co-chair of a federal committee that promotes the research and development of energy from plant material.

SDSU Vice President for Research Kevin Kephart has served on the Biomass Research and Development Initiative Technical Advisory Committee since 2011. Federal officials recently appointed Kephart to co-chair the panel with former Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrave.

The initiative carries out research and development of biofuels and other products. Biomass is organic material from wood, grass, crop residues and algae. It is used to produce fuel and other products.

The goal of the initiative is to develop technologies and processes to produce biofuels at prices competitive with fossil fuels.

In addition to serving as vice president for research at SDSU, Kephart is a plant science professor.

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