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USF Patel College of Global Sustainability received National Science Foundation Grant
November 1, 2018
By: Amanda Mbuya

The Patel College of Global Sustainability’s Water Sustainability Concentration Director, Dr. Kebreab Ghebremichael, along with Dr. Sarina Ergas from the College of Engineering and Dr. Allan Feldman from the College of Education received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant for their project, “International Research Experience for Students (IRES)”. This NSF Grant will be used to support a Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) research project that will look into low cost and onsite water and wastewater treatment technologies such as biosand filters, biodigestors and constructed wetlands for applications to developing countries. 

The project will involve international academic partners from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana.  Students from the United States will be doing research on water treatment and waste water treatment under the supervision of local Ghanaian professors with the participation of local communities and students. The primary goal of the research project is to help US students, through international research activities, gather knowledge and experience about real-world on-the-ground WASH situations in order to enhance their research skills and technical competence.

“Our research will address the challenges of water sanitation and hygiene by taking technical, social, economic and financial aspects into consideration,” said Ghebremichael. 

Failures of WASH solutions in the past were mainly attributed to the heightened emphasis on the technological aspect, rather than following a “holistic approach that encompasses the entire socio-economic and cultural aspects of the communities.”  

The research program will involve 15 students over the course of three years of the funded project.

According to Dr. Ghebremichael, “This research is multidisciplinary in nature; students and faculty from different USF Colleges will be working together to bring different perspectives on how to analyze the data gathered to improve the technologies for finding sustainable solutions.”   

The WASH project is scheduled for launch in January of 2019 and the first cohort of USF students will travel to Ghana for five weeks in the summer of 2019.