The grant is funded by the CBET Division of Chemical Bioengineering Environmental and Transport Systems of NSF. The ultimate outcome will be to develop highly-selective and fast-responding sensors for the detection and quantification of toxins in drinking water and sources of drinking water supplies.
The presence of high concentrations of cyanotoxins in several freshwaters, some of which serve as sources of drinking water supplies, seriously threatens human and environmental health. In 2014, for example, the cyanobacterial harmful algal bloom (HAB) in Lake Erie affected the drinking water for more than 500,000 people in Toledo, OH alone.*
The project, entitled "Nanosensor for the Point-of-Use Detection of Hepatotoxic Microcystins in Water," will specifically develop and test a novel sensor designed to detect and quantify algal toxins frequently found in freshwaters.
This research aims to address the urgent need of rapid on-site monitoring and the quantification of microcystins in surface waters experiencing algal blooms. Microcystins are a group of frequently found cyanotoxins in freshwaters experiencing problems of HAB formation.
“We are honored to receive support from NSF. The award will allow us to continue our research activities and directly advance the knowledge and understanding while also promoting teaching, training and learning at UC. Through this research effort, we look forward to creating vital solutions in the realm of water quality and we hope to get closer to presenting a point-of-care sensor for environmental applications to UC and the scientific community,” said Dr. Dionysios D. Dionysiou, leader and principal investigator of this grant.
Dr. Dionysiou, PhD and UC College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering Professor, is an expert in water quality research. He performs research in the fields of water quality, treatment, and reuse, remediation of Harmful Algal Blooms/cyanotoxins, contaminants of emerging concern, environmental nanotechnology, and water sustainability. “When focusing on ‘big ideas,’ interdisciplinary teamwork is the key in advances of critical thinking and problem solving,” said Dr. Dionysiou.
Another leader on this project and co-PI is McMicken College of Arts and Sciences Department of Chemistry faculty member Dr. William R. Heineman, a Distinguished Research Professor and expert in electroanalytical and bioanalytical chemistry. Dr. Heineman focuses on the development of the electrochemical biosensor aspects of the project.
Dr. Vesselin Shanov, CEAS Professor of Chemical and Materials Engineering and Director of the UC Nanoworld Lab, also serves as co-PI. His expertise is in synthesis and application of carbon nanostructured materials such as carbon nanotubes and graphene. Dr. Shanov`s efforts in this project will focus on employing nanostructured carbon as an active electrode of the developed sensor.
Dr. Ian Papautsky, University of Illinois at Chicago Professor, is a partner on this project, specializing in the investigation of microfluidic systems.