Plant scientist Joanne Chory has $ 3 million more than last week.
On Sunday, Chory was awarded one of the prestigious Revelation 2018 Life Sciences Awards, an award given annually to scientists by Silicon Valley magnates including Google co-founder Sergey Brin and Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg.
The team characterized the awards as the "Oscars of Science" and began awarding them in 2012 to applaud the scientific advances in life sciences, fundamental physics and mathematics.
Chory won the award for research she has done for the past 30 years to find new ways to grow more vigorous plants.
But now it is changing its gears to design a leafy green that could feed the planet and absorb carbon dioxide from the air to curb climate change.
Chory hopes that one day, this crop resistant to floods and drought can be grown as food, while 20 times more carbon is sequestered than today's perennial grasses. It may taste like a garbanzo, he said.
Chory estimates that it will take approximately ten years and 50 million dollars to make the plant rich in proteins come true.
But time is running: most estimates suggest that by the end of this century, Earth is on track to be at least 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than pre-industrial levels.
"Our world is at a crossroads," Chory told a crowd in Palo Alto on Monday, a day after winning the award. "We need to do something, do something soon, to help the planet not get so hot."
The idea of your team's carbon capture plant is based on a polymer called Suberin.
"It's basically cork," she said.
Suberin, said Chory, can store and retain carbon for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years in soil without biodegradation. A perennial plant with Suberin could, therefore, purify the air and add more oxygen to the atmosphere.
And, he said, the roots could be resistant to floods and droughts.
"Many coastal grasses do a lot of Suberin," she said. "I think they're keeping the water out of the plant."
Chory has already discovered new ways to produce outbreaks of mutant plants without light. She has caused certain plants to grow taller in the shade by exposing their seeds to chemicals that alter DNA, and discovered a new class of plant hormones called "brassinosteroids."
His work also helped create more stress-resistant strains and pathogenic cultures for harsh conditions.
For Chory's new plant creation to make a dent in global warming, she estimates that it would need to occupy 5 percent of the world's cropland. With that kind of space – a strip the size of Egypt – she estimates that the harvest could capture 50 percent of the current levels of global CO2 emissions from humans.
Although the idea may still be just hope, Chory thinks it's probably a better strategy than trying to get people to reduce carbon emissions in other ways.
"I live in Southern California where no one reduces their carbon footprint by 50 percent, including me," he said.
Chory said it's not green thumb – she jokes that she knows the inside of the plants better than the outside.
But he hopes that with enough trial and error breeding, he can design a way to help the environment without changing his lifestyle in California. 19659002] This article was originally published by Business Insider.
More from Business Insider: