Shah Lab Announces 2022 Grant Recipients

The Shah Family Innovation Lab is pleased to announce its grant recipients for 2022.  These awards are made possible through the Shah Family Endowment.

Each year, the Shah Lab releases a call to our partner NGOs for problem statements addressing the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.  The Shah Lab invites Purdue faculty and researchers to propose innovative research and technical solutions to help address these challenges.  A seed grant is provided to fund the project, with a focus on sustainability and hopes that it will scale and obtain external funding. 

We are pleased to see colleges around campus joining forces with the College of Engineering to support their faculty and research efforts for maximum impact.  This year Shah Lab will provide $89K and is excited to partner and cost share with the College of Agriculture, who will provide $39K, and Krannert School of Management, who will provide $8K, for a total of $136K in funding.

Congratulations to all the recipients and their teams!

2022 Shah Lab Seed Grant Awards

Title:  Ginger Storage Options

Purdue Team:  Julia Bello-Bravo, PI, Assistant Professor Agricultural Sciences; Gary Burniske, Co-PI, Assistant Director for Program Development, IPIA; Suranjan Panigrahi, Co-PI, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology, Purdue Polytechnic

Partner:  Ms. Namita Nepal, Catholic Relief Services

Country:  Nepal

Grant Amount:  $44,000 (Cost-shared with College of Ag, $22,000)

Project Abstract:  Ginger is a major cash crop in Nepal, especially for women and other vulnerable farmers, as it grows on hilly marginal lands with a relatively low cost of production. Demand for ginger in local and international markets can ensure sustainability and financial self-reliance despite price fluctuations.

The project team will develop and apply improved agricultural processing, storage, and marketing methods practices for ginger that would enhance the socio-economic benefit of the small-scale Nepalese farmers with a focus on gender and social inclusion. The ginger storage solutions will help impoverished Nepalese women escape poverty. All stakeholders and participants along the ginger value chain stand to benefit from reduced storage losses, boosting ginger quality at harvest time, increased productivity, and better marketing opportunities. 

Title:  Low-cost Fish Feed for Use in Smallholder Aquaculture

Purdue Team:  Paul B Brown, PI, Professor of Forestry and Natural Resources; Laura Ingwell, Co-PI, Assistant Professor of Entomology

Partner:  Ms. Jacqui Wagner, Catholic Relief Services

Country:  Timor-Leste

Grant Amount:  $34,000 (Cost-shared with College of Ag, $17,000)

Project Abstract:  Stunting affects more than 50% of children in Timor-Leste, the highest rate of stunting in the Asia and Pacific Region.  Since 2018, CRS has worked with smallholder inland aquaculture farmers in Timor-Leste to increase access to affordable fish as a protein source through the DFAT-funded TOMAK project.

The project team will provide a new approach to increased productivity through the use of supplemental feeds, in this case, insects, that can be produced locally using common agricultural and household waste products. Increases in aquaculture productivity are feasible with additional feed inputs into systems that will promote higher densities of fish and more rapid rates of weight gain.   Increasing productivity would contribute to the Global Sustainable Development Goals of ending poverty (SDG 1) and ending hunger (SDG 2). Specific objectives are to 1. Explore the ability of producing black soldier fly larvae in situ and quantify their nutritional composition; and 2. Compare supplemental feeding of insects to current practices.

Title:  Girl Engineers Testing and Localizing Clean Water Harvesting from Air for their School and Community

Purdue Team:  Tian Li, PI, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering; David Warsinger, Co-PI, Assistant Professor of ME; Jennifer DeBoer, Associate Professor of ENE; Yun Zhang, Post-Doc Research Associate, ME; Dhinesh Radhakrishnan, Research Scientist, ENE; Wenkai Zhu; Grad Assistant, ME

Partner:  Sarah Havekost, Plan International USA

Country:  Senegal

Grant Amount:  $20,000

Project Abstract:  Education around the world is facing a generation-defining emergency: climate change. This is especially true in Senegal, where increasing droughts have exacerbated chronic water shortages. In Kédougou, only 21% of rural households have access to clean water, mostly through manual pumps that are often broken. During the dry season, the falling water table can leave people without access to clean water for up to three months. This places an increasing burden on adolescent girls, 87% of whom are responsible for water collection at home. When they must venture further for viable water sources, they have less time for school. The likelihood that girls drop out increases.

The project team will build a robust curricular module that will partner with the Plan International GirlEngage program to teach young girls in Kédougou, Senegal about science principles related to water access, support them in designing and testing the fully sustainable atmospheric water harvesting (AWH) systems and materials, and foster their decision-making in deploying the most appropriate solution.  The Localized Engineering in Displacement (LED) curriculum will be tailored and contextualized to water access needs, supporting girls’ knowledge and skill development and their awareness of their community and its needs.  The curriculum will cover the relevant STEM content as well as data collection, testing, optimization, and communication. The project will foster the girls’ leadership skills, engineering skills, and entrepreneurship skills.

Title:  Curbing Youth Substance Use Disorder in DRC

Purdue Team:  Pengyi Shi, PI, Associate Professor of Management; Nan Kong, Co-PI, Professor of BME; Omolola Adeoye-Olatunde, Co-PI, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice 

Partner:  Peter Macharia, Irene Nyambura, and Humphrey Kimani, World Concern

Country:  Democratic Republic of the Congo

Grant Amount:  $38,000 (Cost-shared with Krannert School of Management, $8,000)

Project Abstract:  War in eastern DR Congo has impacted thousands of people, particularly traumatized youth. The prevalence of youth using substances has exacerbated many societal problems, creating a vicious cycle in which youth drop out of school, start misusing substances, join armed groups, and perpetuate the dangerous environment that drives even more youth from the broader society toward idling and substance use disorder. 

The project team will co-develop a digital solution with the community leadership at Aru University, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) combat the youth substance abuse crisis by building a digital data platform to facilitate documentation and reporting activities and outcomes for existing programs. This platform builds the necessary foundation to integrate data visualization and decision support modules into the digital platform, including a comprehensive data-based evaluation of the current activities and process maps of the current programs; data-based estimates of workload, resource utilization, and resource needs for current programs; analytics-driven optimal planning for development and roll-out of new programs.