What is the Water Research Consortium?

The Confluence Water Research Consortium is a network platform for connecting researchers affiliated with member organizations to develop sustainable, innovative, environmental technologies in response to today's regional, national and global water challenges.

Types of support offered by WRC: basic and applied research, technology development, problem solving, prototype testing, short courses and training, specialized consulting, workforce development.

Ecosystem:  Regional Water Utilities, Entrepreneurial Small Businesses, Large Businesses, Consulting Firms, Federal Laboratories, Federal Government Contractors, State and Local Government, Regulatory Agencies, Foundations.

2017 Water Research Consortium Challenge

Goal:  The goal of the 2017 Water Research Consortium Grant Challenge is to incentivize greater participation and support of faculty at regional universities in Confluence and the needs of its stakeholders.  The inaugural competition will focus on regional water utility needs.  A cash award of $15,000 will be given to the winning team.

Eligibility:  Those eligible for funding from this program include tenure-track and research faculty and their students at the following universities:  Central State University, University of Cincinnati, University of Dayton, University of Miami, Northern Kentucky University, Wright State University, and Xavier University.  The university must be a member of Confluence at the time of award notification to be eligible for funding.

Focus Area:   Exposure to heavy metals, harmful algal blooms and other chemical and biological compounds

Research areas of interest include:

1.     Novel predictive exposure models and Identification of at-risk communities

2.     Development of real-time sensors to identify exposure sources.  These could include contaminant identification in source waters such as lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and well fields and in drinking water distribution systems to alert of potential contaminant intrusion.  Additionally, on-line sensors that provide real-time feedback with the following considerations for sensor design are of interest:

·      Low cost to allow for widespread use

·      Low energy consumption

·      Minimal maintenance

·      No reagent; no waste stream

·      Adaptable to rugged environments

·      Wireless communication 

3.     Development of sensors for personal exposure assessment.  As an example, sensors to help identify/quantify exposure and risk in premise plumbing applications would be useful.  These types of sensors would need to be adaptable to home plumbing applications such as a kitchen faucet to measure exposure over time and under differing water quality conditions and water use patterns.

4.     Novel outreach, education, and community engagement concepts.  Possible research examples include effective notification, education and outreach methods to non-customer (i.e., non-bill paying) populations (e.g., tenants, non-resident workforce, etc.); notification to consumers within specified geographical areas via mobile devices, social media, etc.; and other opportunities and technologies to reach consumers within a water system’s service area based on customer type and location.  Concepts could include 2-way consumer to utility communication and engagement.

Submission Requirements:  Proposals must respond to one or more the research areas of interest above to be eligible for review.  Although proposals involving a single faculty member are eligible for funding, proposals that show a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach involving faculty from two or more universities are desired and will be considered more favorably during the review process, all other factors being equal.  There are no restrictions to the number of additional collaborators, e.g., consultants, government researchers, industry, other interested parties, that can be added to the team.  A cost match from the participating universities is strongly encouraged.

Proposals up to 5 pages in length are requested in addition to cited references, single page resumes of the faculty investigators, a budget and a budget justification (no more than 2 pages).  The total package should not exceed 10 pages in length.  Applications must include a description of the proposed research (work plan) and what will be achieved (likely outcomes) with the funding.  Allowable expenses include materials and supplies, analytical services, and financial support for undergraduate or graduate students. 

Review Process:  Dr. Phil Taylor, Assistant Vice President at the University of Cincinnati will manage the proposal submission and review process.  With the assistance of the Confluence Board of Trustees, a three-member panel will be assembled to provide reviews of each proposal and then make recommendations for funding to the Confluence Board of Trustee’s Chair.  The lead investigator of each submission will have the opportunity to give an oral presentation of the proposed research at the Confluence Tech Showcase in December prior to the meeting of the review panel.  Dr. Taylor, with assistance from the Confluence board of trustees, will be responsible for assuring there are no conflicts of interest in the review process. 

Submission Instructions:

Submission deadline:  5 pm, November 15, 2017.  Final proposals are to be submitted via email to Dr. Taylor at Taylorp4@ucmail.uc.edu in the form of a PDF file. The email subject line should contain the following:  2017 Water Research Consortium Challenge Proposal.  Technical or administrative questions regarding this challenge competition should be addressed to Dr. Taylor using the email address above.

Key Dates:

Oral Presentations by lead investigator (for responsive proposal) at the Confluence Connects event:  December 13, 2017

Awardee notification:  December 15, 2017

Period of award:  1 year.  Estimated start dates are January 15, 2018 – December 31, 2018, subject to change.