Three Auburn University research projects have received a combined $1.31 million award, through a new program administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, or ADECA.

Gov. Kay Ivey announced the grants this week through the new Alabama Research and Development Enhancement Fund. The state-funded program was created in 2019 under the Alabama Innovation Act.

The multidisciplinary projects are funded as follows:

► $245,865 to develop an advanced biosensor using forest and agricultural products that will have a wide variety of uses dealing with contaminant detection, like determining if pesticides are present in water. The project is conducted by Samuel Ginn College of Engineering faculty members Virginia Davis, Alumni Professor, and Robert Ashurst, the Uthlaut Family Associate Professor from the Department of Chemical Engineering; and Soledad Peresin, an assistant professor of forest biomaterials in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences.

► $868,145 to develop a lightweight material that blocks mosquito bites while retaining coolness in hot weather. The research is being done by John Beckmann, an assistant professor in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology in the College of Agriculture.

► $193,960 to develop a filtering process to remove perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances from water and landfill runoff. The manmade substances are used in food packaging, stain repellants, cookware and firefighting foam and do not readily break down. The investigator for this project is Dongye Zhao, the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering.

“This fund will enable our universities, hospitals, research institutions and others to develop and bring to fruition ideas that will improve lives and create jobs,” Ivey said about the grant program in the announcement. “I am tremendously encouraged by this program and its potential in Alabama.”

Jan Thornton, executive director of Auburn’s Office of Innovation Advancement and Commercialization, or IAC, said the ADECA grants are now an annual funding opportunity for researchers, with proposal submissions for the next award cycle currently open through July 29.

Source: Auburn University awarded $1.31 million in research project funds from state