Praxair, a Linde company, has awarded a $20,000 grant to Dr. Edwin Wong, Western Connecticut State University Associate Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences.

Dr. Wong has been awarded the grant from the industrial gas company to continue his research and investigation of toxic cyanobacteria in Connecticut waterways.

Cyanobacteria, more commonly known as blue-green algae, has been a growing health issue around the globe.

Certain freshwater cyanobacteria can produce microcystin, which is toxic and poses a major threat to drinking and recreational waters, as well as the environment at large. 

“During the last four years, my lab has been conducting an annual programme to monitor regional lakes for the growth and activities of cyanobacteria during the summer months when cyanobacteria are most likely to flourish and bloom,” Dr. Wong explains.

The recent funding from Praxair will allow Dr. Wong to expand his research to identify which specific cyanobacteria produce microcystin, the genetics of toxin biosynthesis and environmental conditionals that lead to and support toxic blooms. 

“I am very excited that Praxair/Linde has decided to partner with me to investigate this important environmental and public health issue,” Dr. Wong explains.

“The data we hope to obtain will give us key insights into how these environmental microbes behave and what we might do to protect recreational users in our region of Connecticut.”

Dr. Wong also will use the funding to recruit student researchers and purchase supplies and instrumentation to streamline his research techniques; include monitoring of other potentially Cyanobacteria-related toxins such as Saxitoxin and Anatoxin; and monitor and measure a variety of environmental metrics where blooms form, including nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations, water pH and temperature and water ion levels.