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Engineers Win $16.7 Million EPA Contract

Date: Oct. 11, 2000
By: Chris Curran
Phone: (513) 556-1806
Archive: Research News
Photo by: Colleen Kelley

UC Professor Makram Suidan will be expanding his environmental engineering research into new areas such as drinking water quality and pollution prevention under a new $16.7 million contract with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The contract greatly expands the support Suidan has previously received from EPA. The previous contract provided $6.24 million over three years. image of Makram Suidant

The new agreement extends over five full years, which means that the researchers involved in this new contract will be able to take on longer term projects and move new technology from lab-scale to pilot-scale and full-scale more readily.

Suidan noted that the winning the new contract indicates the EPA is impressed by the work done under the previous one. Those projects included oil spill remediation, cleanup of sediments and soils contaminated by toxic chemicals, and the development of new ways to clean up water supplies contaminated by MTBE, a gasoline additive.

With expanded funding and more time to focus on difficult environmental issues, Suidan hopes that the new contract will include studies on drinking water quality, waste minimization, pollution prevention, and the relatively new field of "endocrine disrupters." Those are chemicals which act like hormones, and their impacts ranged from reduced fertility to an increased risk of certain cancers.

"It's an exciting area," said Suidan. "The first challenge is to analyze them. Secondly, we have to determine their fate."

The new contract also allows UC researchers to collaborate with all four divisions of the National Risk Management Research Laboratory of the U.S. EPA housed in the federal laboratory facility on Martin Luther King Drive. Previously, this contract was very restrictive with most activity limited to a single division of the EPA.

Suidan says the progress made under the previous grant took a team effort. He worked with nearly 20 full-time researchers, 50 graduate students, six other UC faculty members, and researchers at Battelle Laboratories in Columbus. Battelle's work helps to take what Suidan learns in the lab and apply it on a commercial scale.

"We've established a nice working relationship," said Suidan. "They have tremendous scientists."

Suidan also wanted to acknowledge the work of several environmental engineering faculty and staff in preparing the proposal: Margaret Kupferle (on-site staff manager at U.S. EPA), Kathy Blazer (business manager for the CEE department), George Sorial (associate professor in environmental engineering), Karen Kuran (assistant on-site staff manager at U.S. EPA) and Greg Wilson (doctoral student).

He hopes to add new collaborators and expand the number of graduate students supported with the new contract in place. Those collaborators frequently come from outside environmental engineering. For example, Jodi Shann, an associate professor of biological sciences, has done work on wetlands. Another biology faculty member, Brian Kinkle, has worked on biomremediation projects -- using microbes to break down pollutants into nontoxic compounds.

New environmental engineering faculty who are likely to assist on projects under the new contract are Dionysios Dionysiou, Daniel Oerther, and George Sorial. "Our future is solid," concluded Suidan.

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