An Elizabethtown College research team led by professors Dr. Lauren Toote of Chemistry and Dr. Brenda Read-Daily of Engineering were recently awarded a People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) Phase I grant for their project, Simple and Inexpensive Paper-Based Assay for Lead. The pair will work alongside four E-town students to complete the project. The P3 research grant program was established to support initiatives addressing environmental protection and public health issues. With the help of the grant, students will apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to a hands-on project.

E-town’s project, “aims to develop a low cost, simple-to-use test for detecting lead in drinking water. This test can be used by consumers to test their water at home quickly and accurately,” shares Dr. Read-Daily. Chemistry majors Michael Perzel and Rachel Molino will work alongside Engineering majors Donato Grimaldi and Gina Bongiovanni as student researchers on this project.

“This grant represented a great opportunity for chemistry and engineering students to collaborate on a project involving public health and sustainability,” shares Dr. Read-Daily. “EPA Grants are typically highly competitive, and it is rewarding to see Elizabethtown College in the mix with much larger institutions like the University of California Berkley.”

The grant amounts to $23,811 and with it the group now has funding for a year to advance the project. Combining the expertise of both the Chemistry and Engineering department, the project is well under-way. “The chemists have successfully synthesized the probe, or chemical designed to change color in the presence of lead. The engineering students have designed and 3D printed numerous prototype or cases for housing the test materials. The engineers and chemists will work together to determine the necessary sample volume,” shares Dr. Read-Daily. The four student researchers will also continue this project for the Scholarship Creative Arts and Research Program this summer.

After researching and designing the project, the team will showcase their work at the 16th Annual TechConnect World Innovation Conference and Expo in Oxon Hill, MD on June 29 and 30.