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EPA Awards Grants to 32 Student Teams for Innovative Technology Projects

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EPA Press Office (

WASHINGTON (December 16, 2020) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced approximately $792,036 in funding for 32 student teams through its People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) grant program. Each team will receive funding to develop and demonstrate projects that help address environmental and public health challenges.

“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. 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 universities:

  • Baldwin Wallace University, Berea, Ohio
    • Smartphones to Reduce Food Waste and Insecurity
  • Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa.
    • VOC Sensors for ppb-Level Detection and Speciation
  • Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo.
    • MAP-HABS: An Innovative Platform for the Early and Ongoing Detection of Harmful Algal Blooms
  • Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Fla.
    • Single-Stage Process for Biogas Purification
  • Hamline University, St. Paul, Minn.
    • Increased Sensitivity for Lead Detection in Drinking Water Using Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy
  • Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Ill. 
    • Sorbent-Amended Caps for PFAS-Contaminated Sediments
  • Marshall University, Huntington, W.Va.
    • Nanoclay Reinforced Recycled HDPE to Replace PVC and PE Water Pipe Materials
  • Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
    • Perstraction for the Removal of PFAs from Water
  • Montana Tech of the University of Montana, Montana Technological University, Butte, Mont.
    • Biochar Wattle for Enhanced Surface Water Quality
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, N.J.
    • Induction-Surface-Heating Membrane Distillation
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, N.J.
    • Microwave-Catalytic Membrane for PFAS Degradation
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, N.J.
    • Remediation of PFAS-contaminated Soil and Sediment
  • New York University, New York, N.Y.
    • Urban Food Lab: Composting Plastic in Aquaponics
  • Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Okla.
    • Solar-Energy-Combined Desalination Systems
  • South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Rapid City, S.D.
    • Efficient Solar-Driven Water Desalination Based on Nanomaterial Design
  • Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Ill.
    • HAB Early Mitigation by Magnetic Photocatalysts
  • Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.
    • Electro-Assisted Wastewater Nutrient Recovery
  • Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa.
    • Biochar Filter for Philadelphia Water Pb Removal
  • Tulane University, New Orleans, La.
    • Advancing Next Generation Genomic Tools for Detection of Naegleria Fowleri in Potable Water
  • University of Akron, Akron, Ohio
    •  Waterborne NIPU Epoxy Hybrid Coating
  • University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
    • Cryptosporidium Capture in Sewage Impacted Waters
  • University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
    • Functionalized Membranes for Removal of PFAS
  • University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, Ala.
    • Distributed Fiber-optic Turbidity Sensor Network
  • University of California, Riverside, Calif.
    • Small-Scale Solar Desalination for Drinking Water
  • University of Central Florida, Orlando, Fla.
    • Desalination using 2D MoS2 Nano-solar Evaporator
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich.
    • Biodegradation of Microplastics in Water Treatment
  • University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio
    • Wet Wipes That Turn into Toilet Paper When Flushed
  • University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
    • Fungi-bacteria Based Biodegradation of PFAS
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), Blacksburg, Va.
    • Rare Earth Elements Recovery Using Food Waste
  • Wayne State University, Detroit, Mich.
    • GSI-Informed Urban Groundwater Monitoring Networks
  • Western Dakota Technical Institute, Western Dakota Tech, Rapid City, S.D.
    • Tertiary Wastewater Treatment through Aquaponics
  • Yale University, New Haven, Conn.
    • Solar Window for Water Collection and Purification

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: