This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).
This project involves the renovation of sections of Boelter Hall, part of UCLA's School of Engineering and Applied Science. The building houses the departments of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Computer Science. The unifying theme of the space to be renovated is its use for "sustainability research." Four research "collaboratories" will be created and core mechanical, electrical and plumbing infrastructure will be renovated to support these. The collaboratories are: a Structural Sustainability Collaboratory, a Bio-Sustainability Collaboratory, an Energy and Water Sustainability Collaboratory, and a Sustainable Enviro-Bio-Nano-Technology Collaboratory.
The renovated facility will be used for research in technologies for renewable and alternative energy production and storage, and environmental engineering. Some of the research goals include: the development of the biosynthesis of pharmaceuticals to replace current processes involving organic solvents and to convert renewable resources into pharmaceuticals; a study of the effect of biofuel combustion products on mammalian cells; the discovery, development and optimization of new methods for designing metabolic pathways, new enzymes for biosensors, and new biodegradable polymers; understanding microbial processes at the sub-cellular level; the biotransformation of pollutants, nanoparticles, and pathogens to solve hazardous waste problems and improve public health; and understanding how site-specific physiological and hydrogeochemical conditions and engineered manipulations affect biodegradation activities, microbial community structures, and the fate and transport of pollutants.
In addition to providing infrastructure for research, the renovated facility will be used by undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers for research training. The outcomes of some of the research activities may translate into technologies that industry can commercialize and that society can use to provide new energy streams, enhance environmental stewardship, and mitigate the adverse consequences of environmental change.