Principal investigator: Matthew Gacura

University: Gannon University

Industry partner: MP-Erie-Co

Gannon University and MP-Erie-Co. will collaborate to develop methods to repurpose waste products from local industries based in Erie, Pennsylvania into useful biomaterials using various types of fungi. This project will focus on perfecting methods to efficiently create tough, inexpensive replacement products for a variety of purposes, including insulation and packing material. Engineering processes that integrate ecofriendly approaches at all stages of product development have the potential to offer numerous long-term benefits to the community and thus revitalize the Erie region as a leading innovator of novel manufacturing techniques. This collaboration is of vital importance to Pennsylvania as it allows for the development of a potentially green industry that transforms waste into biomaterials.

Gannon University students studying biological sciences and engineering fields will be recruited in this interdisciplinary collaboration between academia and industry. Our research will initially characterize ideal strains of fungal species and their optimal growth parameters, including the effects on fungal growth when employing a variety of nutrient substrate inputs. Next, we seek to identify novel methods to deactivate fungi in order to limit further growth and finding ways to preserve our engineered biomaterials to slow down decomposition.