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UW-Parkside faculty members Dr. Francis Mann, assistant professor of chemistry, and Dr. David Higgs, associate professor of biological sciences, had their research proposals selected for funding under the 2020-21 WiSys Ignite Grant Program for Applied Research. Dr. Mann’s project titled “Generation of Carotenoids for Animal Feed and Pigmentation” was awarded approximately $49,000 (Dr. Natalia Taft, UW-Parkside associate professor of biological sciences, is a co-principal investigator on the project). Dr. Higgs’ project titled “Genetic Analysis of Nitro Algae: A New Algal Strain with Improved Biomass Yield on Reduced Nitrogen” received approximately $39,000 respectively.

All proposals were reviewed and rated by representatives from the business community, private industry, UW System Office of Academic Programs and Educational Innovation, and WiSys. In addition to the technical merit, quality of the research design, and the likelihood of successful completion, a major criterion for selection was the potential impact of the project on Wisconsin’s economy.

Dr. Mann’s project proposes mutually compatible alternatives for new products for the agriculture industry, which is important for Wisconsin. Dr. Higg’s project proposes an innovative way of allowing plants and algae to grow in low-nitrogen environments. The underlying problems of high input nitrogen costs for crops and nitrogen runoff are significant and substantial issues in modern agriculture and the reduction of environmental pollutants.

The grant period runs from July 2020 through August 2021. Final reports are due in September 2021. The University of Wisconsin System has partnered with WiSys to monitor the project progress and milestone achievements.