International Environmental Project Nets Grant From 100K

International Environmental Project Nets $34,000 Grant From 100K Strong in the Americas

Published: February 21, 2023.

The 100,000 Strong in the Americas (100K Strong) Innovation Fund team at Partners of the Americas and the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) of the U.S. Department of State (DOS) recently awarded a $34,208 grant to a collaborative team from Lewis University, Universidad de La Salle and the University of Delaware.  

“SoPEF 4 Life: Soil, People, the Environment, and Food for Life” is a project to develop solutions for addressing climate change and soil degradation in rural areas of Colombia. Undergraduate students from Lewis University and graduate students from the University of Delaware will travel to Universidad de La Salle in Colombia, where they will learn about soil degradation in rural areas due to climate change and its detrimental effects on family farmers.    

The international research team of three faculty and eight undergraduate and graduate students will explore plant-based biochar as a solution to soil degradation on family farms in Colombia. The students will study the benefits of biochar on soils using laboratory and field techniques to evaluate soil chemistry and soil microbial communities.   

This experience will enhance the students’ scientific inquiry, technical skills and cultural competencies as they collaborate in diverse settings to address this real-world problem for family farmers.    

Also, the students will design a public awareness campaign for rural communities about the importance of soil as a source of food, a regulator of climate, and a support for life on the planet. The campaign will share how plant-based biochar supports the recovery of degraded soils.    

In addition to environmental awareness, this project is set to empower family farmers with a viable option to sustainably manage their soils by producing biochar with materials readily available to them.    

Project directors include Dr. Jerry Kavouras, chair and professor of biology at Lewis University, Dr. Rosalina Gonzalez, professor of engineering at Universidad de La Salle, Libardo Gutierrez, director of International Affairs and dean of Law School at Universidad de La Salle, and Dr. Pei Chiu, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Delaware. 

The 100K Strong Innovation Fund award is part of the 2022 U.S.-Andean Innovation Fund Grant Competition, supported by CAF–Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) and Colombia’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Minciencias) in partnership with the U.S. Department of State (WHA/DOS). 

Lewis University is an innovative Catholic university offering market-relevant undergraduate and graduate programs to 6,500 students. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis University is nationally recognized for preparing intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, and globally-connected graduates who impact the world for the better. Visit for further information.

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