This project is jointly funded by the Division of Earth Sciences Instrumentation and Facilities and the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). The award will support acquisition of a scanning electron microscope (SEM) and ancillary field equipment including a water quality sonde, data logger, and a weather station, to support research and research training at Wichita State University. The equipment will benefit multiple WSU researchers for studies in geology, biology, chemistry, anthropology, and engineering with relevance to societal interests including reducing and remediating toxic elements introduced into the subsurface, studies of hydrophobic composite materials to harvest water vapor in arid regions, and studies of mineral-microbe interactions in hypersaline environments. The instrumentation will support graduate and undergraduate student experiential learning and research training and the investigators intend to conduct instrument-mediated outreach to local K-12 students and educators.
The equipment will be used foremost for investigations of the transport and fate of natural and man-made colloidal materials in groundwaters and soils, with field equipment deployed at a local University managed nature preserve (the Ninnescah Reserve). The SEM will facilitate micron to sub-micron scale imaging of the interactions between natural and synthetic colloids with mineral surfaces with implications for understanding the subsurface transport and fate of metal contaminants adsorbed to natural organic materials and studies of potential remediation techniques for neutralizing acid mine drainage.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.