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College Compost Research Scholarships

The deadline to apply for this scholarship was May 10th. Applications are under review and the students who will be awarded scholarships will be announced by July. Look during the winter of 2021 for the next opportunity to apply.

The Composting Council Research & Education Foundation offers an annual scholarship to college students to assist with their compost research projects. The scholarship is available for undergraduate through PhD students studying at a college or university in the United States. The scholarship is for $4,000, and also includes an invitation to present research findings at a US Composting Council Annual Conference. The goal of this scholarship is to bring assistance to students interested, compost research and to spark interest in future careers in the composting industry.

The research project for this scholarship must be ongoing during the term of the grant and be research in the fields of composting and compost use. More specifically, the ideal candidate will have interest in improving the compost process and the application and the utilization of finished compost to increase drought tolerance, soil nutrient content, reducing erosion and water pollution, and increasing carbon storage in soils to combat climate change. Other compost-related projects will also be considered.

 


2020/2021 College Compost-Research Scholarship Winners

Gerard Braun attends The Ohio State University in Wooster, Ohio pursing a MS in Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering (FABE) with a focus on biosystems. His project involves the development of a protocol for detection of low-level persistent herbicide (< 10 ppb) in finished compost using plants in a bioassay procedure. Analytical chemical analysis of low-level herbicide contamination is difficult and expensive. Phytotoxicity levels of clopyralid, aminopyalid, aminocyclopyrachlor and picloram have been detected in finished compost. This problem of persistent herbicides in finished compost will lead to crop damage for farmers or for home gardeners. Compost facilities and home composters are faced with this problem with two solutions: expensive testing that takes time and must be sent out (if analytical facilities do not exist) or performing a bioassay trail to determine herbicide level. With the various procedures and documentation to perform these bioassay, this project will work to test these different methods and develop a peer reviewed recommendation on how to test for different contaminates. With this in mind, the goal is to better understand how to perform these bioassay and create a uniform bioassay testing procedure any compost facility or home composter could perform. The information gathered from this experiment will contribute to further prove the validity of plant-based bioassay experiments to determine herbicide contamination.

Alex Thomas completed his undergraduate degrees in Biology and Waste Resources before working in Waste Management and Planning in Eastern Washington for the last three years. Most recently, Alex has become a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point under the Soils and Waste Resources Department. Alex’s project is looking at the issue of Chronic Wasting Disease which has been a growing concern in wildlife and waste management. The prion-based disease has spread rapidly over the past decade, infecting cervid populations all over the US. The protein that causes the disease is extremely environmentally persistent, with contaminated soils shown to contain the infectious prion several years after exposure. Of the currently 58 licensed landfills in the state, only 13 are accepting CWD carcasses. This extremely limits the disposal capability for infected carcasses and has created increased costs for disposal through incineration. The plan is to investigate whether composting these infected carcasses will yield deactivation of the prion. To test this, Alex, and others working on the project from University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point, have created bio-based compost piles of infected deer carcasses and are monitoring temperature, effluent movement, and other conditions as the piles breakdown. Additionally, the plan is to expand the project to include analysis of pathogen movement and reduction through mortality composting.

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Composting Council Research and Education Foundation (CCREF)
Physical Address:
1053 E Whitaker Mill Rd
Suite 115
Raleigh, NC 27604

Mailing Address:
PO Box 19246
Raleigh, NC 27619
tel: 301-897-2715
info@compostfoundation.org

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