Interdisciplinary Team of Scientists, including UA SBRP Investigator Raina Maier, Awarded NSF Collaborative Research in Chemistry Grant

July 18, 2007

UA Superfund researcher Raina Maier is part of an interdisciplinary team of scientists (chemistry and microbiology) that was recently awarded a Collaborative Research in Chemistry grant entitled, "Fundamental Surface and Interfacial Chemistry of Microbially-Produced Biosurfactants” through the National Science Foundation.  This is a five year award in the amount of $3,323,076 and is an result of Superfund work Dr. Maier conducted from 1995-2005.  In this project, interfacial and surface studies will be undertaken at air-liquid interfaces and at oxide, metal, and polymer surfaces and will be supplemented by solution aggregation studies. Complementing this effort will be studies geared toward discovery of new biosurfactants and the assessment of how to achieve biosynthetic control of each biosurfactant class through modification of biosynthetic pathways and the molecular environment in which the bacteria grow. The ultimate goal is to generate microbial systems capable of producing, in large quantities, specific biosurfactant congeners that possess desirable surface and interfacial characteristics for a given application.  Potential applications for these materials are widespread not only because they are environmentally friendly, "green", alternatives to synthetic surfactants but also because they have unique structures that may result in entirely new applications in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and bioremediation industries.

This award contains an important educational component as well.  This inherently interdisciplinary effort will be used as a platform to improve the recruitment and participation of underrepresented students, especially regionally underrepresented minorities, in scientific careers in chemistry, environmental science, or environmental microbiology, and to enhance the interdisciplinary training of students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.  This effort will begin at the secondary level and students will be guided along through the graduate level concluding in a graduate degree.

CRC Team
Jeanne E. Pemberton (PI), Chemistry, University of Arizona
Raina M. Maier, Soil, Water and Environmental Science, University of Arizona
Robin L. Polt, Chemistry, University of Arizona
Maria-Teresa Velez, Graduate College, University of Arizona
Jani C. Ingram, Chemistry, Northern Arizona University

Please join the UA SBRP in congratulating the CRC team.