Approximately 28 percent of UALR academic departments have faculty engaged in sustainability-related or â€“focused research.
In 2009-10, the UALR Sustainability Committee launched a new small grant program to support the incorporation of sustainability into research activities at UALR. Winners of the first competition are listed below with short descriptions of the projects.
This program is now in its second year, and the 2011 program announcement and call for proposals can be found by clicking here.
2009-10 Sustainability Grant Recipients
Wei Zhao, Chemistry Department, $500
Project Title: Bioenergy-relevant microorganisms for classes and research
Harvesting energy from the sun provides us with one of the best strategies to achieve the goal of energy sustainability. Bioenergy-relevant microorganisms such as cyanobacteria can harvest sun energy to provide biofuels including hydrogen gas and hydrogen peroxide. On the other hand, the cyanobacteria also provide pigment products (chlorophyll a etc.) and other byproducts after fuel extraction (such as carbon nanostructures) that are often ignored in the biofuel applications. Finding use of these materials may also offer a creative solution for energy sustainability. This project explores the use of cyanobacteria for photonic applications for the first time. By focusing on studying the pigments and the byproducts, low cost laser limiting materials, the materials that can limit the powerful laser intensity for eye and sensor protection, may be realized.
Amelia Robinson, Earth Sciences Department, $500
Project Title: Linkages between land use and sedimentation into Lake Maumelle
This research involves field measurements of water quality and organic matter in the water column and lake sediment near surface-water inputs to Lake Maumelle, the major source of drinking water for Little Rock. This work will provide insight into how dissolved and solid-phase materials enter and get deposited into Lake Maumelle. These materials are liberated from the landscape by both natural processes and anthropogenic disturbances. This project will allow a first assessment of whether the lake sediment records the history of land-use at two locations with contrasting amounts of recent land clearing. At a minimum, we should be able to evaluate which areas are most susceptible to disturbance and highlight potential areas at risk, when considering the long-term sustainability of water quality and quantity in Lake Maumelle. Specifically, drinking water quality in Lake Maumelle is related to a variety of geochemical inputs, however, some of the organic carbon derived from land plants are of particular concern because of their ability to produce carcinogenic compounds upon treatment for drinking water. By understanding how the landscape and lake have responded in the past, our work may provide clues to how the landscape and lake might respond in the future. Our goal is to hopefully provide new perspective on the sustainability of this valuable drinking water source.
Leslie Coop, Chemistry Department, $500
Project Title: Chemical Waste Management
Chemical research produces chemical waste material, which must be handled in accordance with federal and state guidelines. The current method for collecting chemical waste is not coordinated among the labs at UALR, and the types of containers used are not always appropriate for the chemicals they contain. This causes the expense of collection of the chemical waste by a chemical treatment/disposal facility to be elevated beyond what it could be with a coordinated chemical waste collection system among all the labs on campus. This project focuses on a more sustainable method of chemical waste management that will reduce the cost of chemical waste disposal and allow for recycling of a large number of glass containers on an ongoing basis. It will improve laboratory safety for students, faculty, and other researchers, and improves research compliance in the areas of OSHA and EPA guidelines.