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Indian student wins top US research award

india Updated: Apr 08, 2010 10:15 IST

Prasun Chatterjee, an Indian environmental engineering student whose research has contributed to a new way of detecting toxic lead and copper in water, has won one of the highest US research honours.

Chatterjee, a research student at the University of Lehigh, Pennsylvania, will receive the 2010 C Ellen Gonter Environmental Chemistry Award from the American Chemical Society's (ACS) Environmental Chemistry Division when ACS holds its fall national meeting in Boston in August.

Chartered by the US Congress, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and the premier international organization for chemists, chemical engineers and related professions.

The Gonter award, named after a noted research chemist and consultant, is given to a graduate student for an outstanding research paper.

Chatterjee, who received his BS and MS in chemical engineering from Jadavpur University in India and is hoping to complete his PhD in environmental engineering this year.

He will deliver the invited Gonter lecture, "Rapid Detection of Toxic Metals in Water through pH Changes Using a Novel Hybrid Material."

At Lehigh, Chatterjee's faculty adviser is Arup K. SenGupta, the P.C. Rossin Professor of civil and environmental engineering and also of chemical engineering. SenGupta has won numerous awards for applying the principles of ion exchange and physical chemistry to environmental challenges.

Chatterjee's doctoral research has led to the development and synthesis of an inexpensive inorganic material that can detect toxic lead or copper in water at the parts-per-billion level by using a pH meter or pH paper.

He and SenGupta coauthored a paper on the material for the AIChE (American Institute for Chemical Engineers) Journal.

Chatterjee is also co-inventor of a technology called "Rapid Sensing of Toxic Metals through Use of Hybrid Inorganic Materials," for which a US patent has been applied.

Students in Lehigh's freshman engineering projects classes use hybrid inorganic materials to make easy-to-use gadgets that detect toxins in drinking water.