Provost's Fund: College of Agriculture Faculty Research Projects

The LSU Provost’s Fund for Innovation in Research has announced $1.1 million in faculty research grants to 33 projects in support of sustained strategic priorities for the university and for Louisiana.

Launched in 2022, the Provost’s Fund supports interdisciplinary research in five priority areas, also known as the LSU Pentagon, which includes agriculture, biomedicine and biotechnology, coast and environment, defense and cybersecurity, and energy.

Faculty members in the School of Renewable Natural Resources and Department of Textiles, Apparel Design and Merchandising have received funding to expand research projects.

A man and woman stand ankle-deep in water near a pier with a boat in the background.

LSU Renewable Natural Resources graduate students Anamika Dristi and Lee Potter collect samples of surface water released from the Baton Rouge wastewater treatment plant into the Mississippi River. Photo provided by Yi-Jun Xu.

Carbon transport in the Mississippi River

Professor of Renewable Natural Resources Yi-Jun Xu will study the direct human input of carbon to the Mississippi River from wastewater treatment plants.

For the past 10 years, Xu has been studying dissolved carbon ransport along the Mississippi River system to the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the emission of carbon into the atmosphere.

Carbon transported via the Mississippi River can either be carried into the Gulf of Mexico as an important food source for aquatic organisms or be returned to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas emitted by humans.

Wastewater treatment plants collect household wastewater from residences, treat it through several processes, and release it back into the Mississippi River.

“This kind of assessment has never been done before. We want to get an idea of how much carbon per person or per capita contributes every year to the river,” said Xu. “If we have such information, we can estimate human direct contribution of carbon to the river from the entire Mississippi River Basin.”

His team is collecting samples from two wastewater treatment plants in Baton Rouge. They analyze the amount of dissolved organic and inorganic carbon in treated water directly from the plant and when it is released back into the river. With the funding, Xu plans to expand the study in New Orleans and other areas in the Mississippi River Basin.

A woman holds a knitted cap in a room while in front of other garments.

Sibei Xia, assistant professor in the Department of Textiles, Apparel Design and Merchandising, received a grant from the Provost’s Fund for Innovation in Research to develop thermochromic clothing to track newborns’ temperatures. Photo by Annabelle Lang.

Smart textile that detects fevers in infants

Sibei Xia, assistant professor in the Department of Textiles, Apparel Design and Merchandising, is developing body-tracking wearable technology, or smart clothes, through thermochromic yarn that changes color based on body temperature.

The hat will monitor the infant’s temperature, and if the newborn’s temperature spikes, the threads will change colors alerting others.

Using thermochromic technology may reduce the need to monitor newborn’s temperature using thermometers and other invasive technologies. The hat also has the potential to reduce the number of times the infant is disturbed for a temperature check.

The Provost’s Fund will be used to test the threshold temperature that is most accurate for infants. The threshold temperature is the temperature at which the yarn will change color. Xia’s prototype changes from purple to beige around 36 C or about 97 F.

“We are hoping that by implementing other structure variations and color variations, it will create the linear range between 37.5 Celsius to 38.5 Celsius,” said Xu. For example, infants' low-grade fever can be around 37.5 Celsius.

A man stands in front of shelves in a freezer.

Terrence Tiersch, professor and director of the AGGRC in the LSU School of Renewable Natural Resources, has worked with cryopreservation of aquatic species for more than 30 years. Photo by Annabelle Lang.

A group of beakers filled with green liquid sits on a table in a lab.

Tiersch, Teresa Gutierrez-Wing and Yue Liu received funding to develop large-scale repositories for algae.
Photo provided by Terrence Tiersch.

Cryopreservation of algae

Professor of Renewable Natural Resources Terrence Tiersch will develop cryopreservation protocols for algae to create a large-scale repository for algae.

For more than 30 years, Tiersch and his team have worked with cryopreservation to preserve fish and shellfish. He serves as professor and director of the Aquatic Germplasm and Genetic Resources Center (AGGRC) in the LSU School of Renewable Natural Resources.

Breakthroughs in the preservation techniques of aquatic species genomes could aid conservation efforts and are needed to safeguard billions of dollars of investment in biomedical research, industrial production and fisheries.

Tiersch, Teresa Gutierrez-Wing and Yue Liu, of the AGGRC, received funding from the LSU Provost’s Fund for Research to develop large-scale repositories for algae, and previously the LSU Agricultural Center Pilot Program for Enhancement of External Funding to develop cryopreservation protocols for algae.

Algae are incredibly versatile, serving as raw materials for multi-billion-dollar industries. They are used for chemicals, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals and biofuels.

“Our work is interdisciplinary and relies on many people at the AGGRC, College of Agriculture and around the country. We greatly appreciate the forward thinking of the Provostʼs Fund for Research that supports LSU researchers to move in new directions,” said Tiersch.

12/4/2023 2:46:12 PM
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