Dr. Nicole Martinez, Assistant Professor in Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences, was recently awarded a grant from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) for her proposal entitled Discriminatory Transcriptional Response of Environmental Microorganisms and Microbial Communities to Low-Dose Ionizing Radiation. The three-year award was made through DTRA’s program in Basic Research for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction. The initial amount funded is $800,000 with the option for a two-year extension, totaling $1.5 million. DTRA focuses on reducing threats of terrorist attacks on America and its allies by finding ways to monitor and contain weapons of mass destruction including threats from chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high yield explosives. Dr. Martinez’s research focuses on radiological contaminants in the environment. Her co-principal investigator on the project, Dr. Mark Blenner (Assistant Professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering) offers a complementary skillset for studying the metabolic responses associated with specific radioisotopes. Their research will use novel, biologically-based techniques to detect radioisotopes often associated with nuclear activity in the environment. This research has the potential to aid in the development of biosensors that could be used to detect materials undergoing nuclear fission.
Congratulations, Drs. Martinez and Blenner!