By Jean Gordon Cook
(JACKSON, Miss.) – The National Science Foundation has awarded Jackson State University chemistry professor Ashton Hamme nearly $1 million for a three-year project that uses nanoscience to address water contamination problems while preparing the next generation of scientists.
“This award further strengthens our strategic mission to train the next cadre of scientists for the 21st century,” said JSU provost and vice president for academic affairs Mark G. Hardy.
Working with co-principal investigator Jerzy Leszczynski, who leads the Interdisciplinary Center for Nanotoxicity at JSU, Hamme will assemble a team of faculty members from different scientific disciplines to work with undergraduate and graduate chemistry students to develop multifunctional carbon nanotube hybrid materials to detect waterborne pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella and Shigella. Nanotubes are cylindrical structures that are measured in nanometers, which are so small that 80,000 make up the width of a strand of hair. The process developed at JSU would be able to identify potentially deadly pathogens in real time and purify the water supply.
Called JSU-RISE: Research Infrastructure and Student Development through the Chemical Design of Multifunctional Carbon Nanotubes, the National Science Foundation-funded program also aims to increase the number and quality of underrepresented minority STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) students through research and mentoring.
The JSU-RISE program will expose students to the collaborative nature of the scientific enterprise by bringing together a core group of interdisciplinary faculty with complementary scientific pursuits. Students will develop research and leadership skills through summer internships, scientific presentations, teaching experiences and research projects.
The program also will increase the candidate pool for future JSU-RISE students by involving highly qualified undergraduate and K-12 students in the program. The ultimate aim for the JSU-RISE program is to increase the number of underrepresented minority K-12, undergraduate and graduate students who will go on to earn terminal STEM degrees.
“This project combines what Jackson State University does best – teaching, mentoring and research,” said Felix A. Okojie, JSU’s vice president for research and federal relations. “The research and educational goals of this award align well with Jackson State’s goal to become one of the region’s foremost centers for nanoscience and nanotechnology.”
Photo of Ashton Hamme: http://www.jsums.edu/announcements/AshtonHamme.jpg