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NSF awards grant for biology professor’s research project

The National Science Foundation has awarded WKU Biology Professor Shivendra Sahi a grant to fund his research project titled, “Functional characterization of gold responsive genes and development of plant based system for efficient synthesis of gold nano-particles.”

Dr. Shivendra Sahi

Dr. Shivendra Sahi

The award (#1616677) began on Sept. 1, 2016, and will end on Aug. 31, 2019. The grant is expected to total $497,882.

Dr. Sahi’s research aims to discover efficient ways to synthesize gold nano-particles using different species of plants, including Arabidopsis thaliana, a common model organism in plant biology.

Gold nano-particles have many applications ranging from agriculture and medicine to electronics and engineering. However, when these particles are chemically synthesized, toxic byproducts are often generated. Dr. Sahi is working to optimize this process using a plant-based approach.

“Our system of plant-based synthesis is much more eco-friendly,” Dr. Sahi said. “Any byproducts of the synthesis will biodegrade.”

Dr. Sahi began his research on plant-based synthesis of nano-particles in 2005.

“We were working on a project removing toxic metals from contaminated sites using plants, which is called phytoremediation,” Dr. Sahi said. “From there, we wondered how we can use this technology to synthesize nano-particles.”

Having published a widely recognized paper on the topic in 2007, Dr. Sahi began looking for additional funding, which he found in 2012 when the National Science Foundation awarded a grant for the project. The current grant is a continuation of funding for the project.

Dr. Sahi involves all levels of students in his lab, including undergraduate and graduate students. He has also developed many national and international collaborations to complete this task. Not only is this an important aspect of his lab, but it is also valued by organizations such as the National Science Foundation.

“Student training is a key complement to this project,” Dr. Sahi said.

Biology colleagues Dr. Nilesh Sharma and Post-Doctoral Research Associate Dr. Devesh Shukla work with Dr. Sahi on the project.

Contact: Office of Research, (270) 745-6733

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