A University of Alabama research team, lead by Joe Brown, an assistant professor in biological sciences, was awarded grant of $100,000by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant was one of 78 awarded for their project to develop an improved method for detecting and tracking water contamination.
Other team members included the group includes Philip Johnson, an associate professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering, and Ynhi Thai, a senior majoring in chemical and biological engineering.
During the summer of 2009 the team spent time working in Vietnam and Cambodia on this water issue. The research team’s work in Cambodia relied on testing kits, that were expensive and unreliable, The team realized there had to be a faster and cheaper method. “Safe drinking water is absolutely vital to health and well-being,” Brown said. “Reducing water-related illness requires better monitoring for fecal contamination so that risks can be identified and controlled.”
While it will take a while to make this method viable, the team is going to take the next step by starting field trials in the coming months and are optimistic about the life saving possibilities.