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Tufts graduate students receive $10,000 prizes

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. Three teams of Tufts graduate students have won $10,000 from the Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award program for their research into solutions to some of the world's most urgent challenges, including access to clean water, development of renewable energy, and the creation of 'green' medical technologies.

Tufts is one of a select number of universities that participate annually in the global competition established by Dow Chemical Co. in 2009 to foster research into sustainability-related issues with global impacts. The other schools included Cambridge University, Northwestern University, Peking University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Michigan and the University of Sao Paolo.

Vincent Manno, associate provost and professor of mechanical engineering at Tufts School of Engineering, said, "Tufts' winners exemplify innovative thinking and excellence in research. Their proposals take on tough sustainability challenges and point the way to interdisciplinary and implementable solutions."

Award winners were selected through a peer review process by the participating universities. In addition, they had to demonstrate innovative teaching and excellent research, the potential to solve significant problems through an interdisciplinary approach and alignment with Dow's sustainability goals.

"The award-winning students of Tufts University, and all the students who compete in this challenge, are sources of inspiration to Dow and to the world," said Neil Hawkins, vice president of sustainability and environment, health and safety at the Dow Chemical Co. "When you see how deeply they care about the problems, and you see that passion applied to the laws of science in their work, you gain a renewed appreciation for how important our young leaders are to the planet's future."

The winners of the $10,000 prizes are:

Konstantinos Tsioris, Ph.D. candidate, Tufts University School of Engineering, for his research into developing a silk-based biosensor to detect the highly toxic bacterial compound lipopolysaccharide (LPS).When spread through contaminated drinking water, food, or medical equipment, LPS can lead to a microbial blood infection and septic shock, which is potentially fatal. Early detection of LPS allows prompt treatment of infections and prevents septic shock.

Edward Spang, Ph.D. candidate, The Fletcher School, for his plan to analyze water consumption for energy-producing technologies in 177 countries. His data will help policymakers coordinate the interaction between energy systems and the water systems that they must rely on to operate.

Jonathan Torn and Ahmed Malik, master's students, The Fletcher School, for their plan to develop a solar-powered energy system for urban Pakistan to lessen the country's dependence on its current electrical system which is prone to shortages.

Two proposals received honorable mention and $500 prizes:

Coleen Butler, Ph.D. Candidate, Tufts Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, for her research into the advantages of using the plant species Sedum on green roofs.

Eric Vaughan, master's student, Tufts School of Engineering, for his work to develop a mathematical method that would help water planners compare costs of using treated wastewater for agricultural purposes with the cost of using groundwater. This will encourage farmers to use wastewater which is less expensive.


Contact: Alex Reid
Tufts University

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