Dow Sustainability Innovation Award

The Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award (Dow SISCA) recognizes the work of graduate students with innovative ideas and research that encourages and promotes sustainable solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental problems.  The 2017 competition has now closed, the competition will re-open for applications starting fall 2018.  Awards will be given for projects that align with Dow’s 2025 Sustainability Goals, demonstrate innovative thinking and incorporate disciplinary work.  Winning teams can earn a $10,000 grand prize or a $2,500 runner-up prize.

Please join us for the 2017 Final Award Reception: December 6th from 4-6pm in Room 350 of the Learning and Environmental Sciences Building. RSVP here.

Review the information below for more details! Make sure to read the full 2017 SISCA rules. Still have questions? Contact Fred Rose at

2017 Judges:

Durga Panda – Consultant
Amy Short – Regulatory Affairs Specialist, 3M
Mike Rieth – Principal Process and Research Engineer, Met Council Environmental Services
Luke Franklin – Research Scientist, Dow Chemical Company
Derek Stevens – Research Scientist at Dow Water & Process Solutions
Steven Jons – Dow Chemical
Vivek Saxena – Managing Director, Advisory Aerospace OSC
Jeff Standish – Program Manager, Professional Training & Strategic Development

2017 Finalists:

Air Separation by Metal-Catecholates in Metal-Organic Frameworks – Samuel Stoneburner (PhD Chemistry)
“Enabling oxyfuel-enhanced CO2 capture by using computational screening to inform experiment and find materials that can extract pure O2 from air at non-cryogenic temperatures.”

Low-cost solar concentrating windows using silicon nanocrystals – Ryan Connell (PhD Materials Science) & Samantha Hill (PhD Mechanical Engineering)
“Through novel materials and light-management techniques, we can harvest solar energy on the entirety of a building’s exterior without sacrificing its aesthetics or functionality.”

Microporous Nano-Iron Filter for the Rapid Removal and Recovery of Phosphorus from Water – Fatemeh Heidari & John Brockgreitens (Both – PhD Bioproducts and Biosystems Science, Engineering and Management)
“A novel material for the removal, recovery and reuse of phosphorus, the main driver of eutrophication.”

Mobile Air Quality Sensor Network: Measuring Pollution on the Run – Andres Gonzalez (PhD Environmental Engineering)
“The “box” is a portable and an autonomous system that continuously measures and maps local air pollution using a mobile platform (e.g. a transit bus).”

Pyrite FeS2: A Low-Cost Earth-Abundant Solar Solution for Sustainable Power – Bryan Voigt & Jeff Walter (Both – PhD Materials Science and Engineering)
“Breakthroughs in the development of iron sulfide, or Fool’s Gold, as a low-cost, earth-abundant, non-toxic photovoltaic create new pathways to solar cells and sustainable energy. “

Reclaiming wastewater from local food industries to produce energy and high-value urban crops – Ignasi Riera Vila (Masters Applied Plant Science) & Kuang Zhu (PhD Environmental Engineering)
“An integrated system is developed to combine anaerobic wastewater treatment with urban agriculture to produce high value crops with recovered energy, water, and nutrients.”

Sustainable Electronics for Electronic Skin Applications – Fazel Zare Bidoky (PhD Chemistry), Boxin Tang (PhD Materials Science and Engineering), & Scott P. White (PhD Chemical Engineering).
“This project aims to demonstrate electronic devices made by renewable materials via a sustainable and industrially-scalable solution printing approach with applications in wearable electronics.”

Sustainable Polyester Alternatives to Commercial Plastics – Annabelle Watts & Guilhem De Hoe (Both – PhD Chemistry)
“This project focuses on developing high performance materials (e.g., foams, elastomers, thermoplastics) from a bio-based feedstock; the materials will be compostable, degradable, and recyclable.”

Understanding wind turbine wakes using natural snowfalls: efficient, economic and environmentally benign super large scale study – Teja Dasari (PhD Mechanical Engineering)
“Project focuses on utilizing a novel flow visualization technique to study utility scale wind turbine wakes with a goal to improve wind turbine/farm efficiencies.”

Bringing your project to Dow SISCA

  • Pick Your Project: Projects can include work that is already being done as graduate research, or new ideas.  Key areas of interest include, but are not limited to, climate change, energy efficiency and conservation, human health and environment, product safety, circular economy, breakthrough innovations, sustainable chemistry, and chemical technology.
  • Attend an Info Session: This is an optional opportunity for interested students to get more information, and ask any questions. The next info session will take place in Fall 2018
  • Apply: Initial applications are due in October of each year. The 2017 deadline was October 24. Applications will open again in Fall 2018  The complete application can be found here. Applicants are encouraged to discuss their projects with Fred Rose ( before submission.
  • Complete a Written Application: Six to eight teams will be selected as finalists. Finalists must submit a written application in November.
  • Deliver Your Presentation: Finalists will also create a short presentation and present it to a panel of judges December 6, 2017, see here for 2016 winners.

Dow SISCA competitor details

  • Dow SISCA is open to full-time University of Minnesota graduate and professional students from all backgrounds. Multidisciplinary teams are encouraged.
  • There is no restriction on the number of team members.
  • Advisors and mentors are welcome but must be listed in the written application.
  • Former SISCA winners are not eligible to participate.
  • If you have questions regarding eligibility, contact Fred Rose at
  • See the 2017 Rules and Guidelines.

  • SISCA provides a $10,000 grand prize and a $2,500 runner-up prize.
  • Prizes will be split among team members and used at their discretion.
  • Use of awards to implement a project is encouraged and part of competition selection criteria.