University of Arizona Superfund Research Program (UA SRP) Center Director Raina Maier, Ph.D., received a UA at the Leading Edge Recognition award for her work on the discovery and environmental applications of biosurfactants. She received the award at the 10th Annual Innovation Day on March 8, 2013, at UA, which celebrates technology development by highlighting innovative research achievements of students, faculty, and staff. The awards are designed to showcase emerging and important technologies likely to be commercialized in the future.
Through her foundational work on biosurfactant-metal interactions, funded by NIEHS through the UA SRP, Maier has discovered that rhamnolipid biosurfactants strongly and selectively bind to toxic metals and that rhamnolipids are effective in controlling zoosporic plant pathogens. The latter discovery is the subject of a licensed patent and a marketed product called Zonix BioFungicide. Maier envisions biosurfactants as green replacements for more toxic and less biodegradable synthetic surfactants currently on the market.
Visit Maier’s website to learn more about her biosurfactant research.