Dale Buss

When Ting Lu and Stephen Techtmann were notified they were finalists for the Future Insight Prize awarded annually by Merck KGaA, the two scientists thought the email was a scam, said Lu, a bioengineer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Added Techtmann, a microbiologist at Michigan Technological University: “It was an out-of-the-blue thing.”

But the €1 million grant the pair of researchers ultimately won for developing a way to turn plastic into protein powder was very real. The p…

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About the Author

Dale Buss, contributing editor, is an award-winning journalist and book author whose career has included reporting for The Wall Street Journal, where he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize ([email protected]).