A research team at UB’s RENEW Institute has received three federal grants totaling over $2.6 million for research focused on environmental issues.
The project is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Topic areas for these funded projects include the development of “net zero water” buildings with self-sustaining water supplies. In-ground sensors that monitor soil health. How to understand the potential toxicity of mixtures of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are a class of ubiquitous contaminants known as “eternal chemicals” because they are so difficult to degrade.
These awards demonstrate that the UB RENEW Institute has assembled an interdisciplinary team to develop and enhance its project proposals. Researchers receiving new grants are affiliated with his RENEW Institute and include faculty members from the School of Architectural Planning, the College of Liberal Arts, and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
“Addressing pressing environmental challenges requires the expertise of thinkers across many disciplines,” said Venu Govindaraju, Vice President of Research and Economic Development. “This new federally funded project shows that the UB RENEW Institute has done just that.
“The teams working on these projects include architects, chemists, engineers, computational scientists, and more, who will be joining our faculty as the UB RENEW Institute develops truly interdisciplinary proposals. It shows how it functions as a supporting intellectual hub,” says Govindaraju.
“RENEW’s ‘secret sauce’ is the interdisciplinary breadth and disciplinary excellence of our core and affiliated faculty, many of whom contribute to the equitable pursuit of water access, environmental quality, and green energy production. We share concerns about aspects,” said UB RENEW and Henry M. Woodburn, Chemistry Professor in the College of Liberal Arts. “My aim is to draw on the expertise of RENEW’s core faculty and faculty affiliates, understand the complementarity of subject areas, and create strong, interdisciplinary research proposals that are competitive and impactful. To convene a group of scholars.
“RENEW further enhances UB’s reputation as a leader in climate and environmental science,” adds Aga. “We also strive to use our research and programs as a mechanism to increase equity and correct historical injustices through strategic partnerships.
“We are pleased to bring RENEW researchers together to identify collaborators from UB and other institutions, as well as community partners who align our energy, water and environmental interests.”
Newly funded research:
Promoting “net zero water” buildings with independent water supply
Prize money: $1.5 million
Funding Agency: NSF
Bringing together collaborators from Costa Rica, Egypt, the Philippines, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates with chemists, engineers and architects from UB, the goal of the project is to advance water quality and sustainability technology, design and policy. The team will develop materials and systems for harvesting water from the atmosphere and disinfecting stormwater, floodwater, and “recycled” domestic water.
The researchers also create guidance for implementing such techniques in highly water-resistant buildings in a variety of climates. Extreme weather events like hurricanes are becoming more frequent due to climate change, so the importance of buildings with clean water supplies independent of external water supply infrastructure is evident.
To help build a climate-conscious workforce, the project will provide training opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students, science outreach for middle and high school students, and science literacy among the general public. Raise.
The award is one of 13 national awards recently announced by NSF’s International Research and Education Partnerships Program.
“We are thrilled with the quality of the proposals submitted and it was a difficult task to select only 13 projects for the award. We look forward to becoming an international hub for research,” said Fahmida Chowdhury and Maija Kukla, program directors of NSF’s International Office of Science and Engineering.
UB Team: Aga, Senior Researcher. Martha Bohm, Associate Professor of Architecture, Co-Principal Investigator. Ning Dai, Associate Professor and Co-Principal Investigator of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering. Haiqing Lin, Professor of Chemistry and Biotechnology, Co-Principal Investigator. Bohm is a member of the steering committee of the UB RENEW Institute. Dai is co-leader of RENEW’s Focus Areas on Sustainable Water and Engineering SystemsHayashi is the co-leader of RENEW. Areas of Focus on Environmental Pollution and Human Health Impacts.
Development of underground sensors to monitor soil health
Prize money: $398,998 in UB
Funding Agency: NSF
Led by the Tennessee Institute of Technology, this collaborative project includes teams from UB and the University of Tennessee. The goal is to develop a sensor system that can be embedded in soil to monitor the flow of gases such as carbon dioxide, ammonia, oxygen and nitrous oxide in the soil and provide insight into soil health. Such knowledge will enhance the ability of farmers to make better decisions in the growing cycle of their crops.
One of the main purposes is to power the sensor using the through-the-soil (TTS) power transfer technique. With this technology, electrical energy is channeled through the soil, eliminating the need for wires, surface antennas or embedded batteries that can interfere with farming.
Successful research could have wide-ranging implications for the piloting of technologies related to improving yields, increasing farmers’ incomes, agriculture, renewable energy, electricity distribution, and ultimately national security.
Thomas Thundat, SUNY Empire Innovation Professor of Chemistry and Bioengineering, who leads the UB portion of the soil sensor research, said the RENEW Institute made an important contribution in strengthening the multi-agency proposal to NSF.
“RENEW Institute Director Diana Aga played a key role in making the proposal a success by leveraging RENEW resources in a seamless manner,” says Thundat. “Professor Aga’s expertise in analytical chemistry and her RENEW expertise in advanced machine learning by Dr. Zia Ahmed and her education and outreach by Dr. Lisa Vahapoğlu made the proposal very competitive. I did.”
UB Team: Thundat, Core Faculty Member and Principal Investigator of UB RENEW Institute. Co-Chief Investigator Aga. Charles Van Neste of the Tennessee Institute of Technology and Forbes Walker of the University of Tennessee are also principal investigators.
Predict how mixtures of PFAS and other organic pollutants affect brain development
Prize money: $750,000
Funding Agency: EPA
Bringing together a team of researchers with expertise in analytical chemistry, neuroscience, chemical biology and machine learning, this UB-led project will enable scientists to study the effects of contaminant mixtures on brain development. develop technology. His PFAS, a class of contaminants used in a wide range of household and industrial products, will be a particular focus of this investigation.
Previous research has shown that exposure to high levels of some PFASs can lead to a variety of health problems. However, there are over 5,000 different PFASs, and exposure to mixtures of different PFASs can amplify toxicity in ways that scientists do not yet understand, so analyzing the health effects of PFAS exposure is critical. is difficult.
A new study uses high-throughput techniques, machine learning, and studies on cell and zebrafish models to learn how different mixtures containing PFAS affect neurons, and to study the relationship between PFAS and other contaminants. The aim is to develop a predictive system for the potential neurotoxicity of mixtures. About chemical structure. This research will lay the groundwork for improving public protection for human health and generate new knowledge that can be used to inform future evidence-based policies.
UB Team: Aga, Senior Researcher. Ekin Atilla-Gokcumen, Professor of Chemistry, Collaborator. Krishna Rajan, SUNY Empire Professor of Innovation, SUNY Distinguished Professor, Department of Material Design and Innovation She is Erich Bloch Chair, Collaborator. Rajan is a member of the steering committee of the UB RENEW Institute. Atilla-Gokcumen is an affiliated faculty of the UB RENEW Institute. Beate Escher of the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ) and Howard Sirotkin of Stony Brook University are also collaborators.