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WSU professor invents system to detect invasive species in ship ballast water

December 19, 2012

A Wayne State University researcher is working to create a device ships can carry to avoid bringing new invasive species into the Great Lakes. Jeffrey Ram, professor of physiology in the WSU School of Medicine, has received an $823,000 grant from the Great Lakes Protection Fund for his "Automated Ballast Water Treatment Verification Project." His team will seek to develop an automated, shipboard, rapid-testing system that will be able to report - in real time - the presence of any live organisms in ballast water after it has been treated. "If successful, this effort will eliminate one of the greatest challenges facing invasive species control: the ability to get feedback at any time of day and even while ships are underway that their ballast treatment systems are working to prevent the discharge live organisms that may have come from other ecosystems," Ram said. Amar Basu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering, has worked on enzyme detection methods and is collaborating with Ram on the project.