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A University of San Diego professor has been awarded a $450,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study nanoporous hybrid frameworks, which could be used to trap carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“These materials are essentially like sponges with tiny nano-sized pores that have demonstrated excellent capacity for carbon dioxide storage,” explains Lauren Benz, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the university. “Carbon dioxide gas is known to be a major contributor to global warming, so efforts which enable or improve the capture and storage of carbon dioxide are of broad importance.”

Benz will use the five-year grant to hire 10 undergraduate students to participate in her research, and will work her research into undergraduate teaching curriculum. A portion of the money will also go toward forming “a network of women in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields in San Diego to provide support for women transitioning to academic positions.”

The Early Career Development grant, which provides the funding for Benz’s research, is awarded to junior faculty based on peer recommendations of individuals excelling at both research and teaching, as well as integrating the two through curriculum enrichment. Benz is the third USD professor to receive such an award in the last five years.

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