Track-2 FEC engages UNO's Chundi in biofilms data project
A four-year, $6 million research project with scientists from three Midwest states will conduct a Data Driven Material Discovery Center for Bioengineering Innovation. This National Science Foundation EPSCoR “Track-2 FEC” (Focused EPSCoR Collaborations) team includes Parvathi Chundi, professor of Computer Science at the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO) as a co-principal investigator. NSF funds Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research projects, and Track-2 FEC grants require investigators from two or more EPSCoR jurisdictions.
According to the project description: “microbes attached to surfaces, commonly known as biofilms, represent multi-million dollar challenges and opportunities in municipal water, marine, manufacturing and oil and gas sectors and a range of other engineering and medical applications. Study of biofilms at the cellular level, and study of materials at the atomic level, generate extremely large amounts of rich data,” where Chundi’s expertise applies.
To mine the data and establish connections between biofilm growth and material properties, this project will form a new collaboration between South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Montana State University, the University of Nebraska Omaha and the University of South Dakota to develop Biofilms Data and Information Discovery System (Biofilm-DIDS)--to collect and combine these large data sets using big data analytics tools, and use artificial intelligence to analyze and predict gene responses and biofilm characteristics influenced by surface properties of materials.
The Biofilm-DIDS will be developed, calibrated and validated to serve as a scientific platform for investigating nano-scale properties. This platform will help understanding of how the substrate crystallographic orientations and point defects in coatings affect gene expression, signaling pathways, metabolites, and structure formation controlling stress resistance, extracellular electron transfer, and biocorrosion mechanisms of biofilms.
Photo of Dr. Parvathi Chundi, courtesy of the University of Nebraska at Omaha.