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Tonko Announces $1.3M in Science Grants for Rensselaer

Federal awards will fund cutting-edge research into advanced fiber networks, aquatic systems, lead contamination in soil

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AMSTERDAM, NY—Congressman Paul D. Tonko announced a set of science grants totaling $1,364,064 being awarded to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to fund cutting-edge research at the institution including fiber networks and studies on lead-contaminated soil and factors impacting aquatic systems. The grants will be administered through the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“Capital Region researchers have made remarkable strides advancing work across the STEM fields in recent years, not only breaking new ground in our scientific understanding but also inspiring and teaching the next generation of great scientists, engineers and visionaries,” Congressman Tonko said. “My congratulations to the students, faculty and staff whose labor and insight have elevated their worthy projects and earned federal support. Thank you for your continued work that helps to drive our region—and our nation—forward.”

“Rensselaer continues to conduct leading-edge research that addresses pressing global challenges, and these projects are excellent examples of the outstanding work our faculty are leading,” said Robert Hull, Acting Vice President for Research at Rensselaer. “We greatly appreciate this federal support and the recognition of our faculty. We thank Congressman Tonko for his continued support of federal science and research efforts.”

  • $94,361 will go to a project researching how to address lead-contaminated soil in communities and reduce risk of exposure. The project is being led by Dr. Abby Kinchy, Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer.
  • $302,485 will go to a project developing new methods to analyze and understand fiber networks. The project is being led by Dr. Catalin Picu, Professor and Associate Head for Undergraduate Studies, Mechanical Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer.
  • $374,907 will go to a project developing technology to analyze the impact of excess nutrients on aquatic systems. The project is being led by Dr. Shayla Sawyer, Associate Professor of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering at Rensselaer.
  • $592,311 will go to a project researching the process of water proteins to adhere to nearly surfaces randomly (known as fouling). The project is being led by Dr. Runye Helen Zha, Professor at the Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering at Rensselaer.

The NSF was established by Congress in 1950 as an independent federal agency and works to develop cutting edge technologies in physics, mathematics, cybersecurity, neuroscience, and STEM education. Currently, NSF is responsible for funding 25 percent of all federally backed research at national colleges and universities.


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