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EPA Awards $50,000 to Student Teams in Illinois for Innovative Technology Projects

Contact Information: 
Ben Weiss (

CHICAGO (December 16, 2020) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $50,000 in funding to two student teams through its People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) grants program. The teams from Illinois Institute of Technology and Southern Illinois University will receive funding to develop and demonstrate projects that help address environmental and public health challenges.

“Advancements in scientific knowledge and technology come from innovative projects like these,” said EPA Regional Administrator Kurt Thiede. “EPA is pleased to advance the work of the student teams from Illinois Institute of Technology and Southern Illinois University as they work towards finding solutions to protect the environment and our communities.” 

“As EPA celebrates its 50th anniversary, this month, we are highlighting ways the agency supports the next generation of environmental leaders,” said Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, EPA’s Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science and EPA Science Advisor. “The P3 program helps foster environmental education among students to support the next generation of scientists and engineers working to tackle some of today’s most pressing environmental issues.

The Phase I teams will receive grants of up to $25,000 each which serve as their proof of concept. Across the nation, this year’s winners are addressing a variety of research topics including efforts to reduce microplastics waste and food waste, creating innovative and solar-driven nanomaterials, building a stand-alone water treatment system that can provide potable water for indoor use in single family homes, and removing PFAS from water using liquid extractions. These teams are also eligible to compete for a Phase II grant of up to $100,000 to further implement their design in a real-world setting.

Phase I grantees include student teams from the following institutions:

Illinois Institute of Technology – Chicago, Ill.: A student team from Illinois Institute of Technology will work towards developing a sorbent enhanced sand capping technology to reduce the mobility and bioaccumulation of PFAS-contaminated sediments.

Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, Ill.: A student team from Southern Illinois University will create a strategy to mitigate harmful algal blooms (HABs) in their early-stages by reducing the amount of cyanobacteria, degrading cyanotoxins, and removing phosphate. Communities impacted by HAB outbreaks would benefit from the project by increasing their resilience to these events.

To learn more about the P3 Phase I winners, visit:


The P3 program is a two-phase research grants program that challenges students to research, develop and design innovative projects addressing environmental and public health challenges. Phase I serves as a “proof of concept,” where teams are awarded a $25,000 grant to develop their idea and showcase their research in the spring at EPA's National Student Design Expo. These teams are then eligible to compete for a Phase II grant of up to $100,000 to implement their design in a real-world setting.

For more information on the P3 Program, visit:

To learn more about EPA’s 50th anniversary, visit: