Dr. Sederick Charles Rice, a UAPB associate professor of biology, has partnered with a consortium of universities to improve water surveillance. In partnership with Louisiana Tech University and other partner universities, a $6 million-dollar National Science Foundation (NSF) Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Infrastructure Improvement grant fuels the project to create printable sensors for water surveillance.
The research proposal entitled “Facilitating Ubiquitous Technology Utilizing Resilient Eco-friendly Sensors (FUTURE Sensors)” is led by Louisiana Tech University faculty Dr. Teresa Murray. Dr. Murray, associate professor in Biomedical Engineering and principal investigator, and Dr. Christobel Asiedu, associate professor in Sociology, are both members of the project’s leadership team.
Project FUTURE Sensors aims to produce databases of eco-friendly, printable sensor inks for microelectronic devices and functionalized carbon dots to detect toxic chemicals. The project’s broader impacts will advance chemical and materials engineering, sensor design, and environmental research associated with human safety and is aligned with NSF EPSCoR’s “Advancing Research Towards Industries of Tomorrow” initiative.
The project team includes Louisiana Tech University as the lead institution. Additional project team faculty are from Boise State University (BSU), Louisiana State University Shreveport (LSUS), the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB).
UAPB Professor Rice, who is also the site director for the HBCU Med-Track Program and Pine Bluff Wastewater Utility (PBWU) board member, comments, “I’m very excited to partner with Louisiana Tech University. And look forward to facilitating the participation of UAPB undergraduate students through workforce development, education, and outreach activities, within this collaborative and innovative research experience.”
FUTURE environmental sensors will enable low-cost surface water monitoring near agricultural land, industrial areas, and landfills. These sensors help detect toxic levels of chemicals and metals in humans. The economic impact of these sensors could also support cost-effective methods for improved chemical remediation of contaminated water sources in communities such as Flint, Michigan, and Jackson, Mississippi. In addition, studies have shown that contamination of water supplies directly impacts human health and quality of life, with more sustained impacts often affecting high-poverty urban and minority communities.
Dr. Rice will serve as a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)/MentoringCoordinator for the FUTURE Sensors grant project at UAPB. His responsibilities include collaborating with the research team to recruit, mentor, train, and coordinate virtual/remote and on-site research experiences, including travel for UAPB summer research internships at Louisiana Tech. Dr. Rice will also be responsible for collaborating with the consortium of institutions to develop web-based data collection instruments, recruit project study participants, pilot test data collection instruments, interpret and analyze research data, and support workforce development initiatives.
Through the FUTURE Sensors project, UAPB students will have an opportunity to learn more about the application of sensor technologies in the detection of toxic chemicals and metals, understand the R&D aspects of consumable component sensing devices, and review commercialization and manufacturing strategies that establish intellectual property rights and licensing agreements. Through summer internships, FUTURE Sensor UAPB students will also receive training and motivation to become environmental engineers, scientists, sociologists, mentoring trainers, modelers, and economists/data scientists in the global printed sensor industry. The Lion CAVE 2.0, located in Rust Technology Hall, will serve as the lab and workspace for FUTURE Sensor UAPB students. Click here for more information about the UAPB School of Arts & Sciences, Department of Biology.