NSF backs ‘rapid’ study of Harvey’s environmental wake

Editor’s note: Links to images for download appear at the end of this release.

David Ruth
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david@rice.edu

Mike Williams
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mikewilliams@rice.edu

NSF backs ‘rapid’ study of Harvey’s environmental wake
Rice University civil and environmental engineers to analyze storm’s long-term impact

HOUSTON – (Sept. 18, 2017) – Rice University scientists will research the short- and long-term impact of extreme flooding in and around Houston during Tropical Storm Harvey with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

A Rice University graduate student collects floodwater after Tropical Storm Harvey. Rice scientists have won a RAPID grant from the National Science Foundation to learn how contaminants move and settle in the environment and to design emergency-response technologies.

A Rice graduate student collects floodwater after Tropical Storm Harvey. Rice scientists have won a RAPID grant from the National Science Foundation to learn how contaminants move and settle in the environment and to design emergency-response technologies. Photo by Jeff Fitlow

A project led by Lauren Stadler, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, will take the long view as researchers study the mobilization of chemical and microbial contaminants and how long deposits may persist in impacted areas.

The Rice team will compare Harvey data with studies from previous floods to learn general principles about how disease spreads in their aftermath. They will also look at how microbial communities change as a result of extreme flooding.

The NSF approved a one-year, $200,000 Rapid Response Research (RAPID) grant a week after Stadler applied for it. RAPID grants support research of natural disasters and unanticipated events for which time is a factor in gathering data.

“The RAPID funding mechanism through NSF will enable us to collect time-sensitive and urgent data in the aftermath of Harvey,” Stadler said. “Our team is already on the ground collecting samples and preserving them for analysis.”

Colleagues on the project include James Elliott, a professor of sociology and a fellow at Rice’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research; Qilin Li, a Rice professor of civil and environmental engineering and of materials science and nanoengineering; and Pedro Alvarez, the George R. Brown Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, a professor of chemistry and of materials science and nanoengineering and director of the NSF-funded Engineering Research Center for Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT).

Lauren Stadler

Lauren Stadler

The results will inform the design and deployment of NEWT’s emergency-response treatment technologies to target specific contaminants. Alvarez said the prime goal will be to protect the city’s most vulnerable populations after a flood.

“This survey will advance understanding of the risks of disease propagation following floods, find and characterize hot spots for pathogenic bacteria and toxic chemicals to inform remedial action selection and describe the dynamics of natural attenuation of these pollutants over the following year,” Alvarez said.

Stadler said Rice professors will integrate their findings into their courses and develop teaching materials that will be made available to the public.

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Read the grant abstract at www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1759457&HistoricalAwards=false

This news release can be found online at news.rice.edu

Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews

Related materials:

Lauren Stadler bio: http://ceve.rice.edu/Content.aspx?id=2147485390

George R. Brown School of Engineering: https://engineering.rice.edu

Image for download:

Lauren Stadler

 

 

 

 

 

https://news.rice.edu/files/2017/09/0918_FLOOD-1a-WEB-rb4k2z.jpg

Lauren Stadler. (Credit: Rice University)

A Rice University graduate student collects floodwater after Tropical Storm Harvey. Rice scientists have won a RAPID grant from the National Science Foundation to learn how contaminants move and settle in the environment and to design emergency-response technologies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://news.rice.edu/files/2017/09/0918_FLOOD-2-WEB-2k39drm.jpg

A Rice University graduate student collects floodwater after Tropical Storm Harvey. Rice scientists have won a RAPID grant from the National Science Foundation to learn how contaminants move and settle in the environment and to design emergency-response technologies. (Credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University)

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for quality of life and for lots of race/class interaction and No. 2 for happiest students by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/RiceUniversityoverview.

 

 

About Mike Williams

Mike Williams is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.