University-Industry Engagement Week

NC A&T enters chemistry research and education partnership with Chemours Co.

By David Schwartz
Published: May 10th, 2022

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and The Chemours Company have signed a three-year partnership agreement to enhance research, educational, and coaching opportunities for faculty and grad students in areas related to chemistry and chemical engineering.

The company will provide funding for faculty-led research proposals that are of mutual interest, which will be collaboratively selected. The funding will also support at least one graduate student for each project, and the research team will have access to coaching from Chemours’ scientists and engineers. In addition, the partners have agreed to pursue extramural funding that could support a new center of excellence in water treatment, among other initiatives.

“NC A&T is known for producing strong STEM graduates from richly diverse backgrounds. We’re excited to work with Chemours on challenging new technical programs that will drive research with the potential to benefit people everywhere,” said Eric Muth, PhD, vice chancellor of research and economic development. “Working alongside our distinguished faculty, our students will also benefit from interaction and mentoring from Chemours’ leading scientists. We look forward to bringing new opportunities to advance our research and academic programming consistent with our land-grant mission.”

Chemours already had a presence at NC A&T through student scholarship support the company’s 2030 Corporate Responsibility Commitment goals, which include a commitment to reduce process emissions of fluorinated organic chemicals by 99% or more.

“Chemours is a company focused on innovation and sustainable solutions, with a bedrock commitment to responsible manufacturing. We’re excited to partner with a premier institution like NC A&T to help advance new research to meet the world’s demands now and in the days to come,” said Chemours Vice President of Technology Randal King. “NC A&T’s students represent the future of chemistry, and we’ve been fortunate to fund scholarships for several students attending the university through our Future of Chemistry Scholarship program and the Future of STEM Scholars Initiative. This agreement is a natural next step in our relationship, and we look forward to deepening our partnership with N.C. A&T and engaging with their faculty and students.”

North Carolina A&T is well positioned to contribute to the partnership’s goals surrounding water treatment, with leading experts in multiple disciplines across campus whose research interests explore and address PFAS or other environmental challenges. PFAS – or so-called “forever chemicals — can pose a significant hazard in water systems. 

Dongyang “Sunny” Deng, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Built Environment in NC A&T’s College of Science and Technology, focuses some of her research on “physical, chemical and biological wastewater treatment technology development, and she has been invited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to review “an emerging contaminant proposal regarding PFAS in agricultural wastewater.”

Other prominent researchers at A&T include Renzun Zhao, PhD, whose work explores the mitigation of environmental impacts of industrial activities, and Niroj Aryal, Ph.D., who investigates emerging pollutants as well as watershed and stormwater management.

The focus on water contamination research follows last fall’s announcement by EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan – who graduated from NC A&T with a degree in earth and environmental science — of a roadmap designed to address PFAS contamination as well as a new testing strategy for PFAS manufacturers nationwide.

Source: North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week