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MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (11/18/2015)—The University of Minnesota has selected 10 finalists for the $10,000 Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award (SISCA). SISCA recognizes and rewards graduate student innovation and research on sustainable solutions to the world’s most pressing social, economic and environmental problems. Winners will be announced on Dec. 3.

2015 Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award Finalists

Sustainable and Recyclable Polyurethane Foams
Using renewable feedstocks, we have developed mechanically tunable, chemically recyclable polyurethane foams and elastomers. These materials are more sustainable than conventional non-degradable petroleum-derived polyurethanes.
Alex Mannion, Tessie Panthani, Debbie Schneiderman, Marie Vanderlaan.
Chemical Engineering, Chemistry. College of Science and Engineering, UMN Twin Cities.

Developing a Portfolio of Value-added Monomers from Fermentation of Lignocellulosic Feedstocks
Plastics permeate modern life, yet few renewable and biodegradable products exist. I propose to engineer €œ”microbial factories€ ” for biological production of chemicals from inedible biomass.
Maria Kristine McClintock
Chemical Engineering.
College of Science and Engineering, UMN Twin Cities.

Selenium Nanomaterials and Devices for Mercury Removal from Water and Gas Flue
Novel sponge technology for the removal of mercury from water and flue gases.
Snober Ahmed.
Bioproducts and Biosystems Science, Engineering, and Management.
College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences, UMN Twin Cities.

Food Packaging Sensors for Continuous Monitoring of Food Spoilage
Real time monitoring of food spoilage and contamination using color changing food packaging sensors in an effort to reduce food waste and prevent foodborne illness.
John Brockgreitens.
Bioproducts and Biosystems Science, Engineering, and Management. College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences, UMN Twin Cities.

Characterization and optimization of ligninolytic systems to improve human and environmental health
This proven technology uses an edible fungus to eliminate a carcinogen in the food supply of 4.5 billion people and results in two value-added products.
Lauren Jackson.
Plant Pathology.
College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences, UMN Twin Cities.

Precision Techniques for Accurate Microbiome Analysis: Advancing Sustainable Microbial Interventions

Microbial interventions hold the potential to revolutionize precision agriculture and health care. We are developing optimal algorithms to use microbes as environmental and geochemical sensors.
Gabriel Al-Ghalith.
Biomedical Informatics and Computational Biology. College of Science and Engineering, UMN Twin Cities.

Variable Timing Active Valve Technology and ‘Steer-by-Wire’ Valve Operation for Energy Efficient Fluid Power Systems
The challenge of sustainable industry may be decoded by increasing the fuel efficiency of fluid power systems, where the novel variable valve timing is key.
Hao Tian.
Mechanical Engineering.
College of Science and Engineering, UMN Twin Cities.

Solar Fuels From Water and Carbon Dioxide via the Ceria Redox Cycle
Concentrated sunlight powers high temperature chemical reactions to recycle water and carbon dioxide and make sustainable, solar fuels.
Peter T. Krenzke, Stephen J. Sedler.
Mechanical Engineering.
College of Science and Engineering, UMN Twin Cities.

Efficient Simulation of Urban Heat Transfer
Our work generates knowledge about urban form’s impact on the environment and energy use. We develop new micro-climate models using efficient computer graphics algorithms.
Matthew Overby.
Computer Science.
College of Science and Engineering, UMN Twin Cities.

Global Mapping of Plant Traits
A data-driven approach to predict future plant traits behavior and trait-environment interactions. This will improve understanding sustainability of ecosystems amidst biodiversity loss and climate change.
Abhirup Datta, Farideh Fazayeli.
Biostatistics, Computer Science.
College of Science and Engineering and School of Public Health, UMN Twin Cities.

The Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award recognizes and rewards graduate student innovation and research on sustainable solutions to the world’s most pressing social, economic and environmental problems. This competition is only open to University of Minnesota graduate and professional students and has a $10,000 first prize and $2,500 runner up prize.