The grant will support Wolter's ongoing research to find a cost-effective and sustainable solution for sanitizing wastewater in regions that otherwise do not have access to clean water and food.
Associate Professor of Engineering Scott Wolter was awarded $5,500 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in pass-through funding through Duke University for his project, "Determination of energy utilization for electropermeabilization of nematodes in wastewater for parasite deactivation."
Parasitic Helminths are an incredibly virulent family of parasites with six species together having infected approximately 1.5 billion people worldwide. The lack of proper sanitation facilities in some global regions leads to infected waste being deposited back into the soil and water.
Wolter's lab has focused on finding a cost-effective and sustainable solution for sanitizing wastewater in regions that otherwise do not have access to clean water and food. Initial research funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge, demonstrated the effectiveness of this technique for permeabilizing ova of Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) nematodes, a helminth surrogate, through apparent pore formation in the lipid-rich permeability layer within the eggshell. The permeability barrier is crucial to the well-being of the embryo and, therefore, this achievement represents a key milestone towards helminth deactivation.
Follow-on research aims at assessing energy utilization during electroporation determining optimal treatment conditions according to minimal energy requirements.