Three Engineering Faculty Researchers Receive CHEEC Funding

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Three College of Engineering faculty researchers have received funding for two projects through the UI Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination (CHEEC) Seed Grant Program for 2009.

Jennifer Fiegel, assistant professor of pharmaceutics and chemical and biochemical engineering, was awarded $30,000 to investigate the mechanisms by which inhaled nanoparticles alter the function of complex lung fluid interfaces. The research aims to predict loss of surfactant function based on nanoparticle physicochemical properties such as size, surface area, surface charge, relative hydrophobicity (the quality of being repelled by water) and composition.

Tonya Peeples, associate professor, and Julie Jessop, assistant professor, both in chemical and biochemical engineering, were awarded $30,000 for a project with the overall aim of improving bioremediation technologies that can reduce environmental contamination and decrease the associated risk to human health. Specifically, they will integrate biofilm flow devices with a technique called Raman scattering for bioanalysis and separation to investigate complex mixtures of microbes. The approach will help identify and quantify biofilm communities and determine if biofilm formation leads to enhanced levels of atrazine degradation.

The CHEEC seed grant program supports research across a range of innovative environmental health research topics. Results of these pilot-scale studies support the investigators' efforts to acquire additional federal or private grant funding. For more information on these projects or CHEEC seed grants call 319-335-4550 or visit http://www.cheec.uiowa.edu.