J-WAFS awards $1.4 million in third round of seed grant funding

Engineering faculty from four departments were funded, including the departments of Biological Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering.
The seven newly funded projects bring the total number of seed research projects supported by J-WAFS to 24 since 2015.
Through the innovative technologies and collaborations we are supporting with these new research projects, J-WAFS is working to secure the future of our communities, the sustainability of our cities, and the prosperity of our economies in the face of rising population, greater urbanization, and changing climate.” Project highlights appear below, followed by a full listing of 2017 J-WAFS Seed Grant-funded projects.
Enhancing crop production with an eye toward sustainability Enhancing crop production while supporting environmentally sustainable farming practices in developing countries was a theme of several funded projects this year.
Two projects are addressing challenges around nitrogen fertilizer.
Harvesting water from air Securing clean drinking water in environments that are water-scarce or polluted is a challenge in many regions of the world.
Mircea Dinca, associate professor of chemistry, and Evelyn Wang, the Gail E. Kendall Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, are teaming up to develop a new technology that can be used to harvest water in even the most arid regions of the globe.
PIs: Mircea Dinca, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry; and Evelyn Wang, the Gail E. Kendall Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering "Electrochemical Nitrogen Fixation for Distributed Fertilizer Production."
PIs: Xuanhe Zhao, the Noyce Career Development Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering; and John H. Lienhard, V, the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Water and Food in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and J-WAFS "Multifunctional Light-Diffusing Fibers for Simultaneous Light Management and Fluid Transport in Microalgae Bioreactors."
PI: Mathias Kolle, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering

Ways to encourage ‘refuge’ planting, slow resistance to Bt crops

Ways to encourage ‘refuge’ planting, slow resistance to Bt crops.
However, insect pests have shown the ability to evolve resistance to Bt proteins.
In fact, in the case of Bt corn, farmers are required to plant a section of their fields with refuge crops.
That’s because refuge crops provide fodder for insect pests that are not resistant to Bt proteins.
Some growers plant too little of their fields with Bt crops, and some don’t plant refuge crops at all.
Reisig divides his time between conducting research and helping farmers deal with problems related to insect crop pests.
What can influence whether growers plant refuge crops?
Reisig also found that there was a high correlation between how much land was devoted to corn, cotton and soybeans in a county, and how likely farmers in that county were to plant refuge crops.
Reisig also found that better enforcement and peer pressure from other farmers weren’t seen as making farmers more likely to plant refuge crops.
Journal Reference: Dominic D. Reisig.