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Tonko Heralds $637K in Science Grants to Capital Region

Grants awarded to Rensselaer and UAlbany will advance future innovation and partnerships

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Albany, November 22, 2019 | comments

ALBANY, NYCongressman Paul D. Tonko applauded two National Science Foundation (NSF) grants awarded to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University at Albany (UAlbany) totaling $637,041. The grant for Rensselaer will fund research to better understand and control the characteristics of liquid-vapor phase-change to develop new methods of water desalination, power generation and other energy innovations. UAlbany received a grant for a three-day conference program discussing how colleges and universities can help strengthen emergency preparedness and disaster recovery from the threats of extreme weather caused by climate change.

“Our Capital Region universities and colleges play a vital role in training hardworking students and professors to do advanced work that has the potential to make our world a better and brighter place,” Congressman Tonko said. “These awards reflect the incredible vision and dedication of these local researchers and reaffirm that our Capital Region is at the top of the field in numerous specialties of STEM education and research. Congratulations to everyone involved in these innovative efforts, and my thanks to the National Science Foundation for its continued support of science and discovery throughout our region and nation.”

  • Rensselaer received a grant of $594,281 to fund a project that will directly involve and encourage students in STEM to develop new mechanisms affecting evaporation and condensation, advancing technical knowledge and skills for the future workforce. The lead investigator is Dr. Shankar Narayanan, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering at the institute.
  • UAlbany was awarded $42,760 towards a program building upon previous collaboration efforts between UAlbany, the University of Puerto Rico and National Council of Science and the Environment (NCSE) to explore the role higher education can play in developing resilience planning and disaster recovery. Dr. Christopher Thorncroft, Professor of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at the university, led the project alongside Sheila Bernard, Associate Professor in the History Department.

“Evaporation and condensation processes are central to many applications, including power generation, water desalination, heating, air-conditioning, and distillation systems,” said Dr. Narayanan. “Hence, improving and controlling these processes can enhance the performance of these applications, which tend to consume significant energy. One of the ways to improve is by incorporating nanomaterials on the surfaces that allow evaporation and condensation. While this strategy is being explored, its implementation so far has primarily been trial-based. In general, several parameters can affect evaporation and condensation in the nanoscales, including the structure, surface chemistry, and ambient environment. The goal of this research project is to study these effects and then guide the development of nanomaterials, which can positively impact the overall performance of various applications. Our objectives also include educating students of different age groups. We have done this by providing hands-on research opportunities, instruction, and conducting demonstrations for students from middle school to college-level. With these efforts, we hope to excite the students and equip them with the technical knowledge and skillsets to innovate and build transformative and sustainable systems that will make us a more energy-efficient community.”  

Created by Congress in 1950, the NSF is an independent federal agency that supports research to develop and innovate cutting edge technologies in physics, mathematics, cybersecurity, neuroscience, and STEM education. The agency is currently responsible for funding 24 percent of all federally backed research at national colleges and universities.

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