Two ASU Researchers Receives $318,000 grant from Department of Energy

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ASU researchers, Dr. Harvey Hou and Dr. Vida Dennis


By Hazel Scott/ASU

The Department of Energy (DOE) has granted ASU researchers, Dr. Harvey Hou and Dr. Vida Dennis, a $318,000 grant to conduct high levels of research in solar energy and forensic science using cyanobacteria, which are green bugs that are able to harvest solar energy and produce biofuels and useful chemicals as needed by scientists. Hou and Dennis are the Co-Principal Investigators of the grant.

The DOE project will be led by Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) with the participation of ASU and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The trio will work together to recover the secret of photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation using cyanobacteria to develop technology in the production of biofuel and nitrogen fertilizers. WUSTL is one of the top research universities in the United States and has a famous research center in photosynthesis led by a group of world-leading scientists. NREL is a top world-leading institution in energy research and development of renewable technology globally. 

“In collaboration with the highly interdisciplinary DOE-NREL-WISTL-ASU team, we are investigating energy regulation and management in cyanobacteria and seek the application of biofuel and useful chemicals. In addition, we are also interested in the identification and time intervals of cyanobacteria and exploring the potential application of cyanobacteria in the forensic community,” Hou said.

With DOE support, Hou said ASU Ph.D. students and undergraduates will be involved in the research project during the academic years 2023-2026. In 2024, a total of 5 ASU students will be part of the research project in summer research, including three ASU students working at NREL, and two students working at WUSTL from June to August 2024.

“This research project opens the door for ASU undergraduates into the field of renewable energy research and has a significant impact and contribution to STEM research from HBCU institutions like ASU,” Hou said.