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UAPB joins water surveillance research

by Special to The Commercial | September 23, 2022 at 2:39 a.m.
Sederick Charles Rice

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff has joined a university research consortium to improve water surveillance.

Sederick Charles Rice, Ph.D., an associate professor of biology at UAPB, partnered with the consortium and will lead local efforts, according to a news release.

The research proposal titled "Facilitating Ubiquitous Technology Utilizing Resilient Eco-friendly Sensors (FUTURE Sensors)" is led by Louisiana Tech University's Teresa Murray, associate professor in biomedical engineering and principal investigator. She and Christobel Asiedu, associate professor in sociology, are members of the project's leadership team.

Rice, who is also the site director for the HBCU Med-Track Program and Pine Bluff Wastewater Utility board member, will serve as a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)/Mentoring Coordinator for the FUTURE Sensors grant project at UAPB.

"I'm very excited to partner with Louisiana Tech University and look forward to facilitating the participation of UAPB undergraduate students through workforce development, education, and outreach activities, within this collaborative and innovative research experience," Rice said.

The project team includes Louisiana Tech University as the lead institution. Additional project team faculty members are from Boise State University, Louisiana State University Shreveport, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and UAPB.

In partnership with Louisiana Tech University and other partner universities, a $6 million National Science Foundation Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research Infrastructure Improvement grant supports the project to create printable sensors for water surveillance.

Project FUTURE Sensors aims to produce databases of eco-friendly, printable sensor links for microelectronic devices and functionalized carbon dots to detect toxic chemicals. The project's broader impacts will advance chemical and materials engineering, sensor design, and environmental research associated with human safety and is aligned with NSF EPSCoR's "Advancing Research Towards Industries of Tomorrow" initiative, according to the release.

FUTURE environmental sensors will enable low-cost surface water monitoring near agricultural land, industrial areas and landfills. These sensors help detect toxic levels of chemicals and metals in humans.

The economic impact of these sensors could also support cost-effective methods for improved chemical remediation of contaminated water sources in communities such as Flint, Mich., and Jackson, Miss. In addition, studies have shown that contamination of water supplies directly impacts human health and quality of life, with more sustained impacts often affecting high-poverty urban and minority communities, according to the news release.

Rice's responsibilities include collaborating with the research team to recruit, mentor, train and coordinate virtual/remote and on-site research experiences, including travel for UAPB summer research internships at Louisiana Tech.

Rice will also be responsible for collaborating with the consortium of institutions to develop web-based data collection instruments, recruit project study participants, pilot test data collection instruments, interpret and analyze research data, and support workforce development initiatives.

Through the FUTURE Sensors project, UAPB students will have an opportunity to learn more about the application of sensor technologies in the detection of toxic chemicals and metals, understand the R&D aspects of consumable component sensing devices, and review commercialization and manufacturing strategies that establish intellectual property rights and licensing agreements, according to the release.

Through summer internships, FUTURE Sensors UAPB students will also receive training and motivation to become environmental engineers, scientists, sociologists, mentoring trainers, modelers and economists/data scientists in the global printed sensor industry.

The Lion CAVE 2.0, located in Rust Technology Hall, will serve as the lab and workspace for FUTURE Sensors UAPB students.

For details about the UAPB School of Arts & Sciences, Department of Biology, visit

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