Alabama Water Institute Awards Multiple Equipment Grants

April 12, 2021

By Brock Parker

In the ongoing efforts to support water-related research at The University of Alabama, the Alabama Water Institute has awarded five faculty members a total of $76,630 through the AWI Equipment Support Program.

Dr. James Harris, assistant professor in UA’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, has been awarded $30,130 from the AWI for a diffuse reflectance UV-Visible spectroscopy system, the first of its kind in Alabama. This system will allow UA researchers to quickly and easily measure oxidation states and coordination numbers of metal atoms in solid samples, which will help them detect and reduce the amount of pollutants in water. The equipment also received $25,000 in cost-share funding.

“The entire group of faculty members and I are extremely grateful for the support of the research infrastructure here at UA in general and of this AWI equipment support request in particular,” Harris said.

The AWI awarded $25,000 to Dr. Kenneth Hoadley at Dauphin Island Sea Lab for a flow cytometer, which will allow researchers there to study the diversity and function of microbial and plankton dynamics in a variety of habitats. Hoadley requested the cytometer to speed up analysis of microbial communities, and it will also be beneficial to students wanting to learn more about those communities in a marine environment. A cost-share in the amount of $59,572 was also awarded.

“This is very exciting and a major new resource that will undoubtedly be utilized by numerous faculty members for both research and training,” said Hoadley, an assistant professor in UA’s Department of Biological Sciences.

Dr. Feng Yan, assistant professor in the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, was awarded $10,000 from AWI for a glovebox. The glovebox is designed to control air-sensitive and hazardous materials, and Yan’s version will prevent toxic materials from being exposed. Yan currently has six active research projects through various federal agencies where this glovebox will be useful in areas of water research. He was also given $16,457.10 in cost-share funding.

Dr. Mark Elliott, associate professor in the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, was awarded $6,500 from AWI, along with $6,507 in cost-share funding, for a Sterlitech crossflow filtration system with digital pressure gauges. They system will allow Elliott’s research group and others on campus to leverage their expertise in wastewater and membrane technology to make substantial advances in understanding how emerging functionalized membranes perform in real-world applications.

The AWI has awarded $5,000 to Dr. Evan Wujcik, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, to purchase a high-speed camera for nanofiber research. The camera will complement Wujcik’s current electrospinning equipment, which is used in nanofiber production. Both applied and fundamental fiber studies will be made possible by the camera, allowing for an increase in the consistency and quality of the nanofibers for filtration, detection and remediation.

For more information about how to apply for AWI support program and for deadlines, contact Stefanie O’Neill at soneill2@ua.edu.