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UB team takes top prize in NYSP2I competition

UB undergraduate students Mark Geraci and Austin Izzo discuss their project — a portable rainwater-collection system — during the sixth annual NYSP2I Research & Development student competition hosted at UB on April 21. Photo: Nancy J. Parisi

By UBNOW STAFF

Published April 26, 2017

A team of UB graduate students took home one of the top prizes in the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute’s sixth annual Research and Development competition held April 21 at UB.

The annual competition, organized by Rochester Institute of Technology’s NYSP2I, provides college students from across the state the opportunity to promote ideas to create more sustainable schools and communities.

Graduate and undergraduate level sustainability projects were honored at the event, which included teams from UB, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Syracuse University, Clarkson University, University at Albany and RIT. In total, $7,000 in prizes were awarded. The competition was held as part of Sustainability Month at UB.

UB’s Mohsen Ghafari and Mostafa Sabbaghi won the Jeff Sama First Place award for their project titled “Catalytic NO Oxidation with Liquid Absorption Using Polymeric Catalysis: Sustainable and Cost-Effective NOx Control.”

Ghafari is a PhD candidate in the Department of Civic, Structural and Environmental Engineering, while Sabbaghi is a PhD candidate in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

A team from Clarkson University took second place in the graduate student competition. Teams from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and RIT captured the top awards in the undergraduate division. Austin Izzo and Mark Geraci represented UB in the undergraduate student division with their project on a portable rainwater-collection system.

“I was very impressed with the projects described by both the undergraduate and graduate teams,” said Charles Ruffing, director of NYSP2I. “The solutions to our most complex environmental challenges will come in large part from students who are studying these issues. Based on their work this year, these students have put forth innovative approaches to air, water quality and food waste issues, and in the process acquired skills and perspectives that will be valuable to themselves, their future employers and the communities where they will live.”

As part of its Research and Development Program, NYSP2I challenged teams of full-time students enrolled at any institute of higher education in New York State to choose from the following topics: water quality and conservation, food source reduction, and air quality monitoring and improvement. Teams were required to design innovative solutions to reduce the environmental footprint within that topic area.

This was the first year UB hosted the event. “The University at Buffalo is dedicated to conducting interdisciplinary scientific discovery and technological innovation through various initiatives and in particular via our university-wide, interdisciplinary Research and Education in eNergy, Environment and Water Institute (RENEW),” said Amit Goyal, RENEW director.

“It is a pleasure to partner with other schools and state agencies to promote and encourage research leaders of tomorrow to pursue these goals. Our faculty are involved in applying technology and interdisciplinary approaches to develop environmentally sustainable approaches to industrial applications through effective public-private partnership,” Goyal added.

In all, eight student teams from six schools displayed their projects and competed for prizes at the competition. Teams received up to $1,250 for project materials when their project proposals were accepted to the student competition last fall. Student teams exhibited their projects and gave oral presentations to a panel of judges. The free event was open to the public.

The top two schools received trophies. The first-place team received $2,500 to share among team members and their adviser, while second place received $1,000.

The prize money was made possible through donations by sponsors, including Baldwin Richardson Foods, Wegmans, O-AT-KA, Potsdam Specialty Paper Inc., Markin Tubing, Sydor Optics, NOCO Energy Corporation, Perry’s Ice Cream, Counterparts Chemistry and Harbec. Additional funding for the competition was provided by the New York State DEC.