UF center receives NSF award for innovative nanoparticle research

In Honors & Awards, News

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A team of nanoparticle researchers at the University of Florida – who are studying ways to inhibit corrosion on various surfaces, improve antimicrobial coatings, and “green” a number of household products­ – was recently recognized by the National Science Foundation.

UF’s Center for Particulate and Surfactant Systems (CPaSS) was awarded the 2015 Alexander Schwarzkopf Prize for Technological Innovation, for its “exemplary research contributions to technology innovation and its positive impact on the technology, industry, and to society as a whole.”

“This award is a testament to the ingenuity and dedicated efforts of the center’s faculty and student researchers, and of the strong support and guidance of the CPaSS industry members, said Brij Moudgil, a distinguished professor of materials science and engineering at UF and director of CPaSS. “On the occasion of receiving this award, we gratefully recognize Dr. Kevin Powers – who until his death in January 2015, served as the CPaSS Florida site director – for his dedication and his outstanding research and mentoring contributions.”

CPaSS research promotes sustainable use of surfactants and particulate systems. Specifically, they’ve developed a practical matrix for evaluating responsible use of surfactants and particles. This “greenness index” is highly valued by industry and considered to enhance societal well-being. Since its inception, more than 25 companies – with interests in chemicals, minerals, consumer products, healthcare, oil and gas, agriculture, microelectronics, and cosmetics – have sponsored CPaSS research. The UF-based team works jointly with researchers at Columbia University in New York City. They also have an international partnership with researchers at the Shah-Schulman Center, DDU in Gujarat, India.

The award was established to honor Dr. Alexander Schwarzkopf, who founded the Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) program at the NSF in 1978. The I/UCRC program supports university research centers that have a strong capacity to collaborate with industry, and helps to create sustainable partnerships between them. There are currently 77 of these centers in the United States, with more than 1,100 companies supporting them.

“The work that CPaSS is doing – particularly in supporting greener technologies – is tremendously important,” said Cammy Abernathy, dean of UF College of Engineering. “To be recognized like this, by the NSF’s robust I/UCRC program, is further indication that CPaSS is truly playing a leadership role in ushering our industry partners into the age of sustainability.”

The award was presented at the I/UCRC annual meeting in Washington, D.C. in January 2015.