Professors receive research funding

Since coming to OU, five Russ College professors have received a combined $81 million for research.

Five professors in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology have been awarded more than $81 million collectively in research funding since starting their work at Ohio University.

The Russ College, which received approximately $15 million for research in the 2013 fiscal year, currently receives more funding for research than any other OU college.

One chemical and biomolecular engineering professor has received more than $12 million since starting at OU in 2002 for research done on the power of urine.
Gerardine Botte is internationally recognized for her process called “pee power,” which uses electrochemical techniques to convert urine into hydrogen.

“We are helping the chemical industry, which is one of the largest U.S. employers,” Botte said. “(‘Pee power’) is a solution that allows us to use reusable energy … so we can clean the water more efficiently.”

Frank van Graas, an electrical engineering and computer science professor, and Robert Judd, an industrial and systems engineering professor and chair, have received more than $25 million and $5 million, respectively.

Judd’s research mostly deals with solutions for General Electric, from whom he receives most of his funding; van Graas’ research deals with aviation.

The Ohio Department of Transportation and Ohio Board of Regents are just two of many sources of funding for Shad Sargand, a civil engineering professor.

Sargand became a professor at OU in 1981 and has received more than $19 million for his research, which mainly focuses on improving the quality of asphalt pavement.

“Results from some of the studies yielded saving the taxpayers of Ohio millions of dollars annually,” Sargand said.

Srdjan Nesic, a chemical and biomolecular professor, has received more than $20 million from several leading gas and oil companies from around the globe since coming to OU in 2001.

“Our focus is on uncovering the reason why some of the largest facilities out there … mostly pipelines that go across the country … why and how they corrode from the inside,” Nesic said.

Last year, the Russ College’s total of approximately $15 million in research funding worked out to be $239,000 per faculty member in the departments that received funding, Shawn Ostermann, associate dean for research, graduate studies, and planning in the Russ College said in an email.

The college aims to raise this number to $400,000 per faculty member in order to compete with other top engineering and technology programs in schools, including Purdue University and Virginia Tech University.

“Some of these institutions are very large land-grant institutions … which by nature are in a different class, if you will, than Ohio University,” Ostermann said.

Funding for research projects is largely used to pay graduate students for their work.

“Not only do they, (graduate students), perform some of the tasks, but they write their thesis and dissertations on these topics,” Sargand said.

Last year, OU received almost $30 million in research funding and more than $35 million in non-research funding, totaling more than $64 million.

“I’m more excited for the opportunity … to implement all of these ideas so we could actually solve the problems,” Botte said.


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