2D BEST Award Information

The 2D Biofilm Science and Engineering Center focuses on preventing biofilm formation on materials causing corrosion and encouraging positive biofilm activities on plant roots to increase nitrogen fixation, reducing the need for commercial fertilizers.

Seed Grants

SD EPSCoR is soliciting Seed Grant proposals from researchers at the NSF EPSCoR Track-1 partner institutions. A total of $200,000 is available in project year 5. High-impact proposals supporting NSF EPSCoR Track-1 goals and objectives are solicited. Research proposals supporting transformative solutions or innovative uses of 2D materials and biofilms are solicited, as well as innovative STEM education, outreach, and diversity activities. It is anticipated that at least 4 awards for up to 12-months, October 1, 2023-September 30, 2024, will be made. Deadline is 5 p.m. (MDT), Friday, July 28, 2023. Applicants must collaborate with an NSF Track-1 participant on the Seed Grant.

Proposals for high-risk, high reward biofilm research at the intersection of biofilms, 2D materials and big data will be solicited. Seed Grant funds are intended to:

  1. support innovative activities that will result in submission of proposals to federal agencies or private organizations, and
  2. allow individuals not currently supported by Track-1 funding to become involved in the Track-1 activities.

Graduate Student Awards for the current Track-1 project include the following:

  • A Comparative Study of Pulmonary Cell Response and Toxicity Following Acute and Chronic Exposures of Graphene-Family Nanomaterials — Jordan A. Hoops and Sourav Verma, South Dakota School of Mines (Faculty Advisor: Dr. Timothy Brenza and Dr. Kenneth Benjamin) — The proposed work aims to study the acute and chronic inhalation exposures and evaluate long-term impacts of graphene-family nanomaterials (GFNs) on respiratory cell function and explore the mechanisms underlying its toxicity to develop a sound toxicology profile and exposure limit recommendation for GFNs. The objectives of this research are twofold: 1) Developing an in vitro model to assess chronic exposure of GFNs on respiratory cell functions, and 2) study the selective biomolecule such as surfactant protein’s interaction with GFNs using molecular dynamics (MD) to attain an atomistic level understanding of toxicity mechanism of graphene.
  • Comparison of Electrospun Nanofiber Membranes and Centrifugal Nanofiber Membranes Performance in Biofilm Growth Control on 2D Surfaces — Maryam Amouamouha and Divine Kavunga, South Dakota School of Mines (Faculty Advisor: Travis Walker) — The objectives of the research are to develop highly efficient and anti-microbial ultrafiltration membranes from nanofibers and upgrade the performance of the existing nanofiber membranes in biogrowth control on their surfaces and to mitigate biofouling tendency of nanofiber membranes. The membranes’ performance will be tested in a prototype anaerobic membrane bioreactor for wastewater treatment. The project team developed and conducted a hands-on experience for middle school girls in Rapid City.
  • Raman Spectoscopic Analysis for Investigating Nitrogen Fixation Efficiency of Rhizobia in Soybeans — Athira Madhavan and Swastika Bera, South Dakota State University (Faculty Advisors: Sen Subramanian & Anamika Prasad) — The objective of the research is to characterize the nitrogen fixation efficiency of different Bradyrhizobia strains in soybeans by estimating the relative ureide abundance. The collaborative project involved plant science and mechanical engineering expertise.
  • Genome Sequencing and Annotation of Eight Midwestern Soybean-Colonizing Bradyrhizobium Strains with Different Nitrogen-Fixing Capacities — Armaan Kaur Sandhu and Lilia Hernandez, South Dakota State University (Faculty Advisors: Sen Subramanian and Volker Brozel) — The objective of the research is to obtain assembled and annotated genomes for the eight Bradyrhizobium strains, facilitating the identification of key elements involved in competition for nodulation in soybean, as well as study of symbiotic properties. To achieve this, quality genomic DNA will be extracted of each of the eight Bradyrhizobium strains and full genome sequencing will be performed. The project involved the collaboration of microbiology, plant science and informatics groups.
  • Two-Dimensional Materials for Low-Cost Sustainable Perovskite Photovoltaic Systems — Achyuth Ravilla and Md. Hasan-Ur Rahman, South Dakota School of Mines (Faculty Advisors: Ilke Celik and Venkataramana Gadhamshetty) — The objective of the research is to design an environmentally friendly and economically feasible perovskite solar cells, enabled by 2D material technology. The project also involves development and delivery of hands-on activities for middle and high school students on energy harvesting from sunlight and sustainability.
  • Use of Novel Degradable Surface Coatings for Enhanced Biofilm Growth — Whytneigh Duffie and Cody Allen, South Dakota School of Mines (Faculty Advisor: Travis Walker) — The objective of the research is to determine if microbes will first attach to the surface of a sacrificial coating, and subsequently multiply as the material degrades so, upon completion of material degradation, the microbes are better attached to the metal surface resulting in significantly decreased biofouling. A provisional patent has been filed and an NSF I-Corps application is planned.

Year-3 Awards for the current Track-1 project include the following:

  • Bio-Scrubber for Mine Ventilation Air Treatment — Dr. Purushotham Tukkaraja, South Dakota School of Mines, is designing and testing a 3D-printed biofilm mat framework for use in extremely harsh mining conditions and reduce toxic air pollutants from underground mining operations, maintaining the mine ventilation air quality. Collection of mine air and biofilm samples will be collected from the Sanford Underground Research Facility, laboratory-scale biology experiments including enrichment and growth of resilient biofilm mat, and testing under simulated mine ventilation conditions will be done.
  • Materials and Manufacturing Education for the Next Generation — Katrina Donovan, South Dakota School of Mines, developed and is delivering a 4-week hybrid, virtual and in-person, course on 3D printing for teams of teacher/student teams. The objective is to prepare teachers and motivate the next generation of students to be innovators, creators and tool builders through developing the ability to perform computer aided design, constructing tools for additive manufacturing (3D printing), and leveraging an intuition for material properties.
  • Influence of Two-Dimensional Coatings and Associated Biofilm on Zebra Mussel Attachment — Dr. David Waterman, South Dakota School of Mines, is laying the groundwork for development of a thorough mechanistic understanding of the interactions between substrate, 2D coating, conditioning film, biofilm, and macroinvertebrate adhesive proteins that can lead to development of 2D coatings to prevent macrofouling.
  • High Performance Computing of High-Fidelity Simulation of Biofilms — Dr. Jeffrey Doom, South Dakota State University, is developing the ability to perform high-fidelity simulations of biofilms. This will be the first open-source high-fidelity massive parallel bio-film code in all three dimensions including time and also at the surface.
  • Promoting Diversity in STEM Through an Intensive Summer Camp on Biofilms — Dr. Sally Mallowa, Augustana University, in collaboration with Dr. Ben Sayler, Black Hills State University, is development biofilm-based curriculum and assessing it through a two-week STEM camp involving underrepresented populations with follow-up mentoring and cohort engagement beyond the camp.

Year-2 Awards for the current Track-1 project include the following:

  • Quantifying biofilm growth impacts on performance of wastewater infiltration systems modified with 2D materials — Dr. Mengistu Geza, South Dakota Mines, leads a study looking into how bioclogging (the plugging of pore space in soil media with microbial biofilms) reduces water flux in wastewater and stormwater infiltration systems, and how this bioclogging process is affected if infiltration media is modified with 2D materials.
  • Plasma Jet Coating for Biofilm Applications — Dr. Prasoon Diwaker, South Dakota Mines, is focusing on developing a cost-effective, defect-free and scalable method of coating 2D materials on metallic and non-metallic surfaces using a cold atmospheric plasma (CAP) technique.
  • Synthetic nodules using polysaccharide beads for sustainable plant nitrogen nutrition — Dr. Srinivas Janaswamy, South Dakota State University, is developing synthetic nodules using polysaccharide beads for sustainable plant nitrogen nutrition to reduce the need for chemical nitrogen fertilizers and alleviate their negative effects on the environment.
  • Role of priority effect on gut microbiota assembly on gut mucosal interface — Dr. Abhijit Maji, South Dakota State University, is studying gut microbiomes and how the “priority effect” determines the gut microbial community composition in the gut mucosal interface. Formation of a bacterial community/biofilm on the gut mucosal surface with predominantly beneficial species may help to improve host health.

Year-1 Awards for the current Track-1 project include the following:

  • Exploring Rheology Properties of Biofilm with Multifractal and Multiscale Data Analytics — Dr. Shankarachary Ragi, South Dakota Mines, is conducting research focused on the development of novel computational approaches to characterize mechanical properties of biofilms (also called biofilm rheology) and the rules of its dependence on atomic-scale characteristics of the surface modified with 2D coatings. This project will show how the atomic-scale properties of the surface modified with 2D coatings will influence the mechanical properties of biofilms.
  • Radio Frequency Transparent Coating Solution for Preventing Microbial Corrosion on Antennas in Harsh Environments — Dr. Chaoyang Jiang, University of South Dakota, is developing porous concave gold nanoparticles with unique morphology and novel surface functionalization that will be used to study the biomaterial growth on dental materials.
  • Development of Porous Concave Gold Nanoparticles for the SERS Detection of Functional Biofilms — Dr. Sayan Roy, South Dakota Mines, is researching the development of a biofilm preventive coating solution for protecting communication systems in harsh environments from microbial corrosion. The research focuses on reducing biofilm formation on metals and ceramics in agricultural, industrial and defense applications.
  • Characterizing Nitrogen Fixing Biofilms of Indigenous Food Plants Pediomelum esculentum (Prairie Turnip) and Shepherdia argentea (Buffalo Berry) — Dr. Nick Klein, Sinte Gleska University, and Dr. Sen Subramanian, South Dakota State University, are working with Native American undergraduate students researching the nitrogen fixing of prairie turnips and buffalo berries, both of which hold significant value as traditional medicines and food sources for the Native American community.