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IERE announces 2024 Seed Grant recipients

The University of North Florida’s Institute of Environmental Research and Education (IERE) announces the faculty recipients of the 2024 Seed Grants. One project will focus on isolating carbon from landfill gas and the second project will utilize a bee study to influence positive behaviors in early learners and parents. 

The competitive, merit-based Seed Grants are awarded annually to UNF faculty members to stimulate and “seed” the creation of environmentally related research and inspire effective collaboration between faculty and students in diverse disciplines.  

Isolating carbon gasses 

UNF professors Dr. Florentino De La Cruz, civil engineering, and Dr. Benjamin Williams, chemistry and biochemistry, were awarded funding for their project on “Carbon Capture and Storage from Landfill Gas using Metal Organic Framework Coupled with Enhanced Weathering with Combustion Residuals.”   

The project aims to utilize landfill gas, with a 50% methane and 50% CO2 composition, for carbon sequestration by employing metal organic frameworks (MOF) to separate CO2, followed by converting it into stable precipitates within metal-containing waste. The initiative not only addresses environmental concerns but also explores economic opportunities, considering the projected $50 billion carbon market by 2030.  

Influencing positive “bee”-haviors 

Dr. Adrien Malek-Lasater, early childhood education, Dr. Katrina Hall, literacy and early childhood literacy, Dr. Erin Largo-Wight, public health, Dr. Pam Williamson, special education, and Dr. Heather Barnes Truelove, psychology, were awarded funding for their research project on “Plan Bee: A Pilot Study Examining a Preschool Curriculum Unit on Bees and its Influence on Children's Learning and Parents' Environmentally Responsible Behaviors.”   

This project is designed to gather preliminary data for an EDU Core Research National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant on STEM learning. This specific research will focus on creating an age-appropriate curriculum about bees for preschools. Using a mixed-methods crossover design, one school will implement the bee-friendly curriculum, while the other serves as a control. The study will collect pre- and post-data to assess the impact on behavior, attitudes and norms for both children and parents exposed to the environmental curriculum.  

The grants provided to faculty by IERE are community-supported and funded entirely by donors. This year’s program is supported by the River Branch Foundation and Vulcan Material Company Foundation.