Ferrum Partners with International Scientific Technologies on NASA Grant

Ferrum College Research Grant

Ferrum College senior student research technicians Grant Waldrop ’14 and Kevin Reynolds ’14 review samples with project coordinators Dr. Michaela Gazdik and Dr. Jason Powell in the molecular biology student/faculty research laboratory in Garber Hall.

Ferrum College received a $238,000 research contract under the direction of Dr. Jason Powell, associate professor of chemistry and physics, and Dr. Michaela Gazdik, associate professor of molecular biology, from International Scientific Technologies, Inc. of Radford, Virginia. The grant was awarded by NASA to International Scientific Technologies as a result of collaboration with Dr. Powell on a project last year. This new, two-year project will involve student researchers in both biological and chemical disciplines in the real-world application of corrosion control.

International Scientific Technologies, Inc. has partnered with Ferrum College to draw on the expertise of Ferrum faculty members and to provide opportunities for students to perform applied research. “This Phase 2 NASA SBIR award is a great opportunity for International Scientific to continue working with Dr. Powell and to begin a working relationship with Dr. Gazdik,” said Michael Harig, the project director. “The Ferrum College students who have worked with Dr. Powell so far have performed excellent work to assist in the development of new technologies.”

Dr. Powell’s research expertise in the surface chemistry of metal oxides initially attracted the interest of International Scientific Technologies, Inc. when he started at Ferrum College 12 years ago. Their partnership last year resulted in projects that allowed two Ferrum College students, Terry Hall ’13 and Kevin Reynolds ’13, to present their research at a recent national meeting of the American Chemical Society. “It is wonderful to be able to involve students in meaningful research to benefit a local corporation and also to allow the students to present their work at technical conferences,” said Powell.

Dr. Gazdik will be joining the collaboration this year, bringing her expertise in microbiology to promote and monitor bacterial biofilm growth. For this project, Dr. Gazdik and her students will monitor the growth and characterization of biofilms, while Dr. Powell and his students will perform various chemical treatments to the metallic surfaces. A key tool for the project is Ferrum’s new scanning electron microscope, recently purchased as a part of improvements to the science building, Garber Hall.

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