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Syracuse Center of Excellence awards $600,000 for collaborative research projects to improve air and water quality
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Researchers at four member institutions of the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems (Syracuse CoE) will begin innovative projects that will help improve the air quality of built environments and protect water resources, thanks to $600,000 in federally funded grants secured by U.S. Rep. James T. Walsh (R-NY) and announced today at Syracuse University.
The Collaborative Activities for Research and Technology Innovation (CARTI) grants are awarded to six projects aimed at investigating urban air pollution, understanding mercury pollution in Lake Ontario, researching salt contamination of streams and groundwater, quickly detecting water-borne toxins, modeling how urban water runoff affects natural water sources, and developing an “artificial dust” to help indoor air quality research.
This third round of CARTI awards is made possible through funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) secured by Walsh, who attended today’s announcement. To date, Walsh has secured more than $30 million in federal funding for research and development for the Syracuse CoE.
“Although the physical Center of Excellence is being constructed at this very moment, the cornerstone of this endeavor is the research that has been well underway and federally funded since 2002, and, in the case of the CARTI awards, for three rounds now,” says Walsh. “The CARTI awards help to tap the considerable brainpower and expertise of Central Upstate New York to not only fuel our economic growth but solve problems of global significance.”
“These new CARTI projects strengthen Central Upstate New York’s position as a world leader in innovations that address critical environmental challenges,” says Edward A. Bogucz, executive director of the Syracuse CoE. “From improving the air quality in and around buildings to ensuring safe water resources for humans and wildlife, the community of experts that comprise the CARTI research teams is at the leading edge of discoveries that promise to improve human health and ecosystem sustainability, for our generation and for generations to come.”
Listed below are the project investigators, their institutions, and brief descriptions of the funded projects. Full project descriptions can be found on the Syracuse CoE website at http://www.syracusecoe.org/CARTI.
- Suresh Dhaniyala of Clarkson University: $100,000 to investigate the distribution of ultrafine particles that pollute urban neighborhoods and how this pollution is affected by local traffic patterns and urban terrain;
- Charles T. Driscoll of Syracuse University: $100,000 to analyze mercury pollution in Lake Ontario and how the amount and distribution of mercury is affected by surrounding watersheds;
- Stuart Findlay of the Cary Institute of Ecosystems Studies and Don Siegel of Syracuse University: $100,000 to research the causes of increased salt concentrations in surface and groundwater throughout New York state;
- Yan-Yeung Luk, Michael B. Sponsler and Ren Dacheng of Syracuse University: $100,000 to develop a highly sensitive hydrogel material that can quickly detect the presence of water-borne toxins;
- Giorgos Mountrakis, Karin Limburg, Myrna Hall and Bonggi Hong of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry: $100,000 to create a more accurate and useful model of how run-off from sidewalks, parking lots, rooftops and roads affects natural water sources, to help urban planners and municipalities better protect the environment; and
- Igor Sokolov and Douglas Bohl of Clarkson University: $100,000 to develop a novel ultrafine material “photoluminescent silica” that will simulate dust, allowing researchers to better model air flow in indoor environments.
“For nearly 15 years, this region has been making strategic investments in the green technology and renewable energy industries,” says Robert Simpson, president-elect of the Metropolitan Development Association of Syracuse and Central New York. “These university-industry research grants are the building blocks for our region’s rising reputation as a global leader in green innovation.”
“This year’s CARTI grant recipients once again vividly illustrate Scholarship in Action,” says Syracuse University Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. “The winning teams exemplify collaboration, and their award-winning work shows remarkable promise to provide immediate, preventive solutions for serious problems confronting this community and every community around the world: threats to public health that are associated with air and water pollution. The CARTI award winners’ work will have a powerful impact on our regional economy, and for that we especially want to thank Congressman Walsh for his vision and continued support of Syracuse CoE members and innovators.”
“The award to Dr. Giorgos Mountrakis and his colleagues will help SUNY-ESF and the Syracuse CoE support the greening and improvement of water quality in the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County,” says Dr. Cornelius B. Murphy Jr., president of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
“We thank Congressman Walsh for his continuing support of projects that bring global expertise to the protection of our water and air quality,” says Clarkson University President Anthony Collins. “Partnership and community outreach projects like this are integral to Clarkson University’s education mission because they apply our scholarship and expertise to the lives of real people, while at the same time expanding our student learning experiences. This is an excellent example of how Clarkson’s strengths intersect precisely with the growing needs of our technologically driven society.”
“Life as we know it depends on access to freshwater,” says Cary Institute President Dr. William H. Schlesinger. “Our CARTI grant will provide essential funding to Cary Institute studies on salt levels in New York state’s surface and groundwater. Research results will help inform management decisions to protect and preserve these resources. Congressman Walsh is to be commended for recognizing the importance of understanding and addressing human-induced ecological change.”
An independent Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) of eight nationally recognized researchers from the academic, research, and scientific communities recommended the projects for CARTI awards following a rigorous process used by the National Science Foundation and the US EPA for competitively awarded projects.
The air quality SAC team is headed by Professor Barry Ryan of Emory University, a leading expert on environmental effects on humans in urban settings. The water quality SAC team is led by Professor Denice Wardrop of Pennsylvania State University, a noted researcher and associate director of the Cooperative Wetlands Center.
In a two-step process, members of the SAC reviewed preliminary proposals submitted by 40 teams. Of these, 21 teams were invited to submit full proposals. After review and recommendations by the SAC, six full proposals were selected by the Syracuse CoE for funding.
The Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems (syracusecoe.org) is a federation of more than 200 businesses and institutions that collaborate on sustainable innovations to improve built and urban environments. Members of the Syracuse CoE federation work on research, development and educational projects relating to clean and renewable energy, indoor environmental quality and water resources.