Challenges for Students

Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award (SISCA)

Graduate students: Are you up for a challenge? The Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award (SISCA), a program of IonE and the Dow Chemical Company, recognizes and rewards students and universities for innovation and research that encourages and promotes sustainable solutions to the world's most pressing social, economic and environmental problems.

Entry Guidelines and Rules

Submission Criteria

A winning submission must:

  • exhibit potential for solving world challenges in alignment with the spirit of Dow’s 2015 Sustainability Goals;
  • be interdisciplinary (applied sciences, engineering, economics, public policy, social studies, business etc.); and
  • involve innovative thinking and excellence in research.

Award Details

Awards include a $10,000 grand prize and a $2,500 runner-up prize.


For more information contact Fred Rose ( or visit


Dow launched SISCA in 2009 to promote forward thinking in social and environmental responsibility. See 2012 results. (PDF)


In order to ensure a more sustainable future, it’s essential we promote and cultivate fresh ideas, innovative thinking and sustainable practices that balance environmental, societal and economic decisions. SISCA advances sustainable development, helping further our commitment to create positive change for tomorrow.


SISCA acknowledges the energy, commitment and enthusiasm of University of Minnesota students and the professors, sponsors and facilitators who support their sustainability innovations and efforts in continued excellence. Applicants must be enrolled graduate students at the University of Minnesota. Former SISCA winners are not eligible to participate.

SISCA Presentations & Award Program

Presentations and awards for Dow SISCA will take place at the Institute on the Environment, December 5, 2013.

Agenda (Central Standard Time)

8:00 am - 12:30 pm Presentations to judging panel, R380. Also webcast on UMNConnect.
3:00 - 4:00 Poster session featuring the morning presenters. IonE Commons.
4:00 - 4:45 Short 2 minute presentation from each team and award ceremony. R380. Also webcast on UMNConnect.
4:45 - 5:30 Reception. IonE Commons, continue poster session.

Schedule for presentations

8:00 - 8:15 Introduction
8:15 - 8:45 Clayton & Lang - View recording
8:45 - 9:15 Svingen - View recording
9:15 - 9:45 Beletskiy & Samet - View recording
9:45 - 10:00 Break
10:00 - 10:30 Ting - View recording
10:30 - 11:00 Saadat - View recording
11:00 - 11:30 Tessum - View recording
11:30 -12:00 Li & Zhang - View recording

Summary of Finalists

Using Nature’s Strategies to Improve Health and Preserve the Environment
Evgeny Beletskiy, PhD Chemistry; Masoud Samet, PhD Chemistry

Hydrogen bond networks are exploited in the form of novel anion receptors and catalysts to tackle and solve big problems.

Dioxin Contamination in Vietnam: Harnessing Untapped Microbial Communities for Bioremediation
Kevin S. Lang, Comparative and Molecular Biosciences; Jonathan B. Clayton, DVM/Ph.D. Comparative and Molecular Biosciences

This project seeks to combine animal physiology, ecology, microbiology, and molecular biology to develop new dioxin-degrading processes.

Green and Sustainable Power Source: Renewable Fuel enabled Free-Piston-Engine
Ke Li, PhD Mechanical Engineering; Chen Zhang, PhD Mechanical Engineering

A free piston engine with a robust and precise piston motion controller which acts as a virtual crankshaft that guides the piston to follow a reference trajectory using energy from the storage element. This allows real time adjustment for different fuel properties.

Modeling, Control and Optimization of a Novel Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) System for Off-Shore Wind Turbines
Mohsen Saadat, PhD Mechanical Engineering

The proposed CAES system takes the advantages of high energy density of compressed air besides the large power density of hydraulic power transmission. The objective is to model, control and optimally design a new CAES system with application for offshore wind turbines.

Twin Fin Aquaponics
Eric Svingen, PhD Civil Engineering

Twin Fin Aquaponics is a social venture in the Twin Cities, founded by five students and alumni from the University of Minnesota. Twin Fin innovates in the area of food production and sustainability, by designing new methods to grow fish and vegetables in urban environments.

A Cloud-based Air Quality Modeling Web Application for Improved Public Health
Christopher Tessum, PhD Civil Engineering

A web application that will allow users to estimate pollutant emissions from changes in human activities, carry out air pollution modeling, and determine the public health and economic implications of those activities all in one place, without needing specialty knowledge of atmospheric science, epidemiology, or economics.

Design of Tunable Excipients to Enhance the Solubility and Storage of Poorly Water-Soluble Drugs
Jeffrey Ting, PhD Chemical Engineering

The objective of this work is to develop a broad fundamental understanding of how intermolecular interactions between polymers and small molecules govern overall functionality of storage and delivery systems for applications in pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, personal care and high-energy materials.

Room R380 (Seminar Room)
Institute on the Environment
325 Learning & Environmental Sciences
University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus
1954 Buford Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108
map here.

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