Three faculty members combined for a significant research impact during this academic year, with one recognized by the university following a recent multi-year international water quality research project and two others earning $800,000 in grant awards, including one NSF CAREER award.
Temple President Richard Englert presented Dr. Rominder Suri, Professor & Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Director of the NSF Water and Environmental (WET) Center, with the award for Applied Research and Innovation earlier this semester. Dr. Suri's work is centered on the evaluation of emerging contaminants, water quality, and advanced oxidation processes for the pharmaceutical industry.
"I want to look at the bigger picture of life on Earth. Our individual lifespan is sort of like a speck on that timeframe," Dr. Suri said, in a video profile preceding the event. "Whatever we can do, in our limited time, to progress science to help our society...is what drives me."
Assistant Professor Erica McKenzie secured a $500,000 NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program award to identify the mechanisms of PFAS (Poly and perfluoroalkyl substance) interactions with organic matter in soils. Some estimates show that over six million Americans have been exposed to PFAS in the water supply.
The award will also include outreach to middle and high school students, research opportunities for undergraduate students from a range of disciplines, and development of multi-disciplinary thinking in graduate students.
Assistant Professor Avner Ronen and Assistant Professor Heyang (Harry) Yuan earned a separate $400,000 award from the Department of Agriculture, to investigate turning livestock wastewater (LWW) from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to valuable products: high-quality water, ammonia gas for energy/fertilizer production and a fertilizer, seeking to close resource cycles in agriculture.
According to Dr. Ronen, the system is designed to work with renewable energy, and will seek to address critical water problems in agricultural uses, such as water quality and recycled wastewater and focus on developing a solution for water management that links food, water and energy.