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News Releases from Region 09

EPA Awards Grants to UC Berkeley and Riverside Student Teams for Innovative Technology Projects

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Alejandro Diaz (

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced approximately $447,000 in grant funding for 18 teams of undergraduate and graduate students across the country through its People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) Student Design Competition Program. Grantees include student teams from the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, Riverside. Each team will receive a Phase I grant of up to $25,000 to develop their sustainable designs that will help solve important environmental and public health challenges.

“The innovative ideas that these P3 teams are bringing out of the classroom and into the real world will help solve some of our nation’s most pressing environmental challenges,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “From creating a simple at-home test for consumers to detect lead in tap water to designing a system to remove toxic chemicals from landfill gas, the fresh thinking behind these projects will result in tangible products that will help Americans for generations to come.”

“We celebrate these California students for their dedication to addressing complex environmental issues,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “The research funded will lead to more cost-effective drinking water treatments and construction materials.”

The teams will showcase their projects at EPA’s National Student Design Expo on June 29-30 at the TechConnect World Innovation Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. Following the Expo, the P3 teams may compete for Phase II awards of up to $100,000 to further implement their designs.

The University of California, Berkeley, was awarded $25,000 to further develop a better arsenic removal technology for drinking water. Currently, an estimated 55,000 people in California depend on drinking water which is above federal drinking water limits for arsenic (10 parts per billion). This project seeks to create a cost-effective removal system that can treat water which is up to 25 times the limit, and at a capacity capable of operating within a municipal drinking water system.

Professor Ashok Gadgil of Environmental Engineering mentors the team of graduate students that won this award.  He says it is a pleasure to see his graduate students excited and thrilled to get support from EPA for their vision that will eventually benefit the drinking water quality of poor and marginalized rural communities in California and other parts of the US. 

The University of California, Riverside, was awarded $24,998 to develop construction material out of wheat straw. Wheat straw is often sent to landfills as a waste in the harvesting process. This project seeks to replace traditional gypsum-based drywall with a straw-based product that is more workable and has less environmental impact.

To learn more about the 2019 Phase I winners, visit:

For more information on the P3 Program, visit: