2020 has presented Air Sciences with many opportunities for retooling. As a small business, we quickly enacted a work-from-home policy with some routines to keep everyone healthy but also balanced. Daily facetime through all-company meetings and even some virtual happy hours have kept our close-knit teams connected and thriving. The small blessings of this newfound flexibility (and home-cooked lunches) are quickly displaced, however, by the anxiety we all feel around the ongoing turmoil in economic and public health arenas.
So our hearts sung with particular joy and elation when we received notification that our Phase I proposal to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program was selected for funding in fiscal year FY 2020 – with our monitoring and instrumentation lead, Dr. Katheryn Kolesar, as the Principal Investigator. The SBIR program is a competitive awards-based program that encourages federally recognized small businesses to engage in research and development (R&D) activities. Eleven federal agencies participate in the program. Organized into three phases, award amounts increase as R&D efforts show more promise as they are being developed.
Last fall we had responded to a solicitation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for innovative R&D ideas related to the conservation of natural resources. Our project will support the research priority of developing new technologies and methods for monitoring soil erosion by wind. Soil erosion is a problem not only due to the degradation of topsoil in agricultural and rangeland areas, but also because of the generation of particulate matter that can lead to a decrease in lung functionality – something that can increase the severity of respiratory illness caused by COVID-19 and other viruses. We are thrilled, and eager, to continue the work we’ve started – especially with the opportunity to get out of the house and into the field!
This work is funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, SBIR Phase I project 2020-00896. Stay tuned for more updates as we get started in earnest this fall!