RUSTON, La. (KTVE/KARD) – Louisiana Tech University was awarded a $6 million grant to develop ‘future’ sensors aiming to measure toxic chemicals on the surface of drinkable and polluted water.

Louisiana Tech associate professor in Biomedical Engineering and principal researcher, Dr. Teresa Murray, says this is a chance to make a national impact in environmental science and human wellness.

“Gallup year after year says that one of the people’s major sources of concern is water pollution when talking about the environment,” says Murray.

The multi-million dollar grant was funded by the National Science Foundation and will be invested in creating ‘future’ sensors that will detect heavy metals and pesticides

Murray says Louisiana Tech is also teaming up with other universities aiming to find expertise across different states. The university will serve as the lead institution for the project.

“And to be able to combine that and do something that one state could do by themselves to help us design sensors to detect certain kinds of environmental toxins that are in the water in our lakes, our rivers,” said Murray.

Partner institutions in this research are Boise State University, Louisiana State University Shreveport, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

The program will provide students with intensive training. Murray says once the research project is completed, sensors will be commercialized through industrial partners

“This can be a future industry for our area. So, it’s also important to train the people who will be designing and manufacturing those products later.”

Murray says researchers aim to expand these printed sensors to local communities with a lack of resources.

“They can screen their water and also test themselves.”

Ian Golsby, an electrical engineer and mathematics student at Louisiana Tech, says many communities will benefit from this project.

“It shows that not only that tech is making a commitment to work on the environment and safety of its own students, but is also a project that would help people all over the country.”

Murray says they hope to have a prototype for some of those heavy metals ready by the end of the year.