Tulane Awarded Nearly $1M for Research That Impacts Industry, Workforce

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Tulane's Hank Ashbaugh said a grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents will promote a high-tech workforce in Louisiana and across the Gulf South. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

NEW ORLEANS – The Tulane University Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering has received a nearly $1 million grant to fund research infrastructure that will encourage more collaborations across Tulane and the region in material sciences.

The five-year, $996,981 grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents will also fund a new undergraduate research program in the School of Science and Engineering to promote a high-tech workforce in Louisiana and the Gulf South.

“This project will significantly support collaborations with partners in local industry to translate academic research to industrial practice, which will have a positive impact on Louisiana’s economy,” said Hank Ashbaugh, a professor of chemical engineering at Tulane.

The grant will enable the department to enhance and expand its research capability through the acquisition of seven highly specialized instruments aimed at addressing fundamental and applied research problems.  The instruments will expand the department’s research footprint and portfolio, leading to enhanced external funding, high quality publications, doctoral student opportunities and growth of the department’s graduate program.

Ashbaugh said the instruments have myriad applications, from analyzing reactions in advanced batteries in order to optimize their performance and increase their lifetimes to building up new materials to deliver drugs using lipid and polymer-based drug carriers. An instrument called a quartz crystal microbalance can be used to measure the deposition of trace contaminants like coronaviruses on surfaces, and an optical microscope can be used to replace synthetic polymers with biodegradable alternatives to minimize plastic waste.

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