URI researchers win seven of eight grants awarded to foster innovation in Rhode Island

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KINGSTON, R.I. – May 17, 2012- The Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council has announced the recipients of the 2012 Research Alliance Collaborative Research Grants, and University of Rhode Island scientists are collaborators in seven of the eight funded projects.

The grants totaling $1.4 million are designed to encourage entrepreneurship and new company creation by bringing new technologies and discoveries into the marketplace.

“To create jobs and grow our economy, we must focus on our existing assets – and some of Rhode Island’s most valuable assets are the great minds at work at our colleges, universities, pioneering businesses and research facilities,” said Governor Lincoln Chafee in announcing the awards. “These grants are an investment in the future of our state. I am pleased to see this level of collaboration between industry and academic institutions, and I look forward to the next level of research and innovation these grants will make possible.”

The grants provide seed funding to help Rhode Island scientists, businesses and research institutions work together to advance ideas that can eventually create new products, companies and quality jobs in the state while growing innovation- and technology-driven industries. The awards will foster multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional research projects that are well-positioned to attract significant follow-on investment from major institutions such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health or that are ripe for commercialization.

The 2012 awards are as follows:

New Tools and Mechanisms to Combat Aquaculture Diseases

Objective: To develop new commercial products to promote fitness and prevent disease for finfish and shellfish in aquaculture facilities.

Collaborators: University of Rhode Island (David Rowley, Marta Gomez-Chiarri, David Nelson), Roger Williams University

Revealing Active Responses of the Ocean State’s Marshes to Climate Change with Biogeochemistry & Environmental Genomics

Objective: To determine whether marshes are net “sinks” or “sources” of gasses and train undergraduates and one high school teacher. 

Collaborators: University of Rhode Island (Serena Moseman-Valtierra), Rhode Island College

Understanding Coastal Environmental Change, Past, Present and Future: A Novel Approach Combining Algal Physiology, Genetics and Lipid Biomarkers

Objective: The project will study an important class of organic biomarkers produced by algae that are thought to record past sea surface temperatures, and use this information to better understand future environmental change at our nation’s coastlines. 

Collaborators: Brown University, University of Rhode Island (Tatiana Rynearson)

Lab-on-Paper Technology for Immunodiagnostics

Objective: To produce new point-of-care immunodiagnostic devices that perform multi-step tests that are easier to read and can be used by a wider patient population.

Collaborators: University of Rhode Island (Mohammad Faghri), Labonachip, LLC

Climate-Driven Impacts on the Formation and Persistence of Macroalgal Blooms: Bringing Ulva Bloom Biology into the Genomics Era

Objective: This project will assess the econological and genomic aspects of the formation of harmful macroalgal blooms in response to climate change in Narragansett Bay, and use the data to predict and monitor harmful blooms.

Collaborators: University of Rhode Island (Carol Thornber), Salve Regina University

Characterization of Novel Anaerobic Nitrogen-Fixing Bacteria Isolated from Narragansett Bay Sediments that Respond to Human-Induced Climate Change

Objective: The project will determine the environmental factors that control nitrogen fixation within the sediments of Narragansett Bay and predict how microbial activity in bay sediments will respond to future environmental impacts.

Collaborators: University of Rhode Island (Bethany Jenkins), Narragansett Bay Estuary Program

Graphene-Polymer Composite Materials

Objective: To develop uniquely functional graphene-polymer composites that will lead to commercial opportunities and establish Rhode Island as a leader in this field.

Collaborators: Brown University, University of Rhode Island (Arijit Bose)