Raina Maier receives UA at the Leading Edge Research Award


University of Arizona Superfund Research Program (UA SRP) Director Dr. Raina Maier was recognized as a Leading Edge Researcher at the 10th Annual Innovation Day at the UA on March 8, 2013. This event celebrates technology development by highlighting innovative research achievements of students, faculty, and staff. “UA at the Leading Edge” is a feature of the event designed to showcase emerging and important technologies likely to be commercialized in the future.

Dr. Maier was recognized for her work on the discovery and environmental applications of bacterial surfactants (biosurfactants). Dr. Maier’s foundational work on biosurfactant-metal interactions was funded by NIEHS through the UA SRP and NSF Collaborative Research in Chemistry Grant and this research is now coming to fruition.

Dr. Raina Maier (right) receives her award

Two major applied discoveries are that rhamnolipid biosurfactants strongly and selectively complex toxic metals and that rhamnolipids are effective in controlling zoosporic plant pathogens. The latter discovery is the subject of a licensed patent and a marketed product called Zonix BioFungicide. Dr. Maier envisions biosurfactants as green replacements for more toxic and less biodegradable synthetic surfactants currently on the market.

Asked for a student tip on achieving entrepreneurial success, Dr. Maier said, “Pursue your dream! First find out what that dream is - take lots of science and math to find the areas that interest you and that you are passionate about.”

Congratulations on the recognition of your own passion, Dr. Maier!