Newest NSF I-CORPS grant awarded to Rice team Aqualight Materials

Grant will support the commercialization of their novel, patented, method for removing PFAS contaminants from water supplies.

Kimberly Heck and Michael Wong in a lab

Congratulations to Michael Wong, Bo Wang, Kimberly Heck, and Francois M. Auzerais, for their work on Aqualight Materials, a novel, patented, method for removing PFAS contaminants from water supplies. PFAS contaminants are widespread due to their previous use in lubricants, surfactants, and fire-fighting foams—and can cause liver damage, cancer, developmental and reproductive damage at very low levels.

Bo Wang
Bo Wang

Led on campus by Rice Alliance, Rice University is a founding partner of the Southwest NSF I-Corps™ Node, established in 2014 by Rice University, Texas A&M and UT Austin. Kerri Smith, Associate Managing Director of the Rice Alliance leads the program, along with Kaz Karwowski, Executive Director, RCEL, to provide coaching and mentoring through the NSF I-Corps grant process. The NSF I-Corps program helps commercialize university technologies and uses experiential education to help researchers gain insight into entrepreneurship, starting a business, and customer needs.  

Through the work of many faculty and researchers at Rice, along with the coordination and mentorship of the Rice Alliance and Rice Center for Engineering Leadership, Rice University has received more than $650,000 in grant funding for Rice NSF I-Corps Teams, supporting the commercialization of Rice technologies and experiential education of PhD students.  

These successful Rice I-Corps teams include Volumetric, led by Jordan Miller, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering, that went through the program. Volumetric was acquired for up to $400 million in late 2021. More recently, EpiFresh, the Rice startup that competed in the 2022 Rice Business Plan Competition, led by Neethu Pottackal, Rice PhD Candidate in Materials Science and NanoEngineering, completed the NSF I-Corps program in 2021.

This article originally appeared via Rice Alliance.