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News Releases from Region 02

EPA Awards Funding to Student Teams to Solve Environmental and Public Health Challenges

Contact Information: 
Elias Rodriguez (
(212) 637-3664

NEW YORK  – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $594,424 in funding for eight undergraduate and graduate student teams from colleges and universities across the country through EPA’s People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) grant program. The eight teams are being awarded Phase II funding to develop their proposed solutions to pressing environmental problems including determining trace levels of lead in drinking water, controlling harmful algal blooms, and removing Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from wastewater effluent for reuse in agriculture.

“I congratulate these students for their innovative ideas to solve some of our biggest environmental challenges,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The student teams in this competition have shown exemplary work and are excellent representatives of the next generation of scientists and engineers.”

The P3 program is a two-phase research grant program that challenges student teams to research, develop, and design innovative projects addressing environmental and public health challenges. The winning teams are building upon their successes in Phase I where they each received up to $15,000. With today’s announcement of Phase II funding of up to $75,000 per team, the teams will now further develop those projects and designs to ensure they can be sustainably implemented in the field.

The P3 Phase II recipients in EPA Region 2 were:

  • New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, N.J., to develop a chemical process that can help control harmful algal blooms and remove cyanotoxins without leaving disinfection by-products.

“Access to safe and sustainable water supplies is an increasingly critical issue in developing and developed societies across the globe. Green purification processes are key to maintaining these vital resources,” said Atam Dhawan, senior vice provost for research at NJIT. “Wen Zhang’s scalable nanotechnology-based treatment processes remove micropollutants and toxins in water, making it safe for drinking and many other uses that we too often take for granted, but that are important for our survival.”

  • Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., to design a vertical-flow, waste-free water pump that returns drinking water to communities while reducing electricity costs associated with conventional pumps used in water treatment plants.

Since the P3 program’s inception in 2004, EPA has funded student teams to develop sustainable technologies that help solve important environmental and public health challenges. To date, EPA has awarded over 720 P3 projects for a total amount of $16,745,235 involving more than 4,000 students at 234 institutions in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

Research from previous P3 awards continues to make a difference today. Many student teams have taken their experience and funding to go on to start small businesses across the country. For example, a former P3 team from Harvard University launched One Earth Designs, a startup that sells solar-powered grills, which can also function as space heaters and electric generators. Another former P3 team from Cornell University funded SUNN, a company that sells energy efficient indoor LED light fixtures.

To learn more about the Phase II awarded institutions:

For more information on the P3 Program, visit:

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