James Hunter, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Morgan State University (MSU), recently received a Phase 1 award of $115,000 from the Maryland Innovation Initiative (MII) for his SUMZ™: Stormwater Utility Management System and Solutions project. SUMZ uses a stand-alone software program and data management tool developed by Dr. Hunter and his research team. It is designed to enable local governments to consider factors that contribute to the volume and quality of stormwater and participate in an initiative to standardize fees, abatements and tradeable storm credits to maintain stormwater systems. The tool offers municipalities help in setting storm water utility fees that reflect the related activity on the landscape, and it provides stormwater utilities with information to raise and collect revenue. The ultimate goal of SUMZ is to help influence the behavior of homeowners, businesses and other stakeholders to protect water resources and reduce flooding.
The MII program, part of the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), encourages technology commercialization among Maryland’s five research universities. Dr. Hunter was one of five research faculty members from Morgan State University to be granted an MII award since the inception of the program
“We are deeply appreciative of TEDCO’s recognition of the innovative and entrepreneurial genius of our research faculty here at Morgan,” said Victor McCrary, Ph.D., MSU’s vice president for Research and Economic Development.
Based on a projected nine-month schedule, Dr. Hunter and his team expect to have a working online demo of their product by May 2018. Their goal is to produce a software tool that can function as a cloud-based application.
After receiving his Ph.D. in environmental engineering from Purdue University in 2006, Dr. Hunter pursued his research in stormwater management and low impact development (LID) during his postdoctoral appointment in the School of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue. He helped develop a decision support tool for low impact development stormwater practices based on land-use, soil combinations, and long-term climatic data.
During his time at MSU, Dr. Hunter has received six awards or grants within this field of research and development. Most recently, he gained recognition for his work on the ongoing project Inlet Cleaning Pollutant Characterization Study for Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), with an award from the State of Maryland in the amount of $271,000. This project is funded for March 2016 to March 2018. He was also honored by being recognized as an Outstanding Civil Engineering Educator by ASCE – Maryland Section in 2016.
Dr. Hunter has dedicated his research to low-impact development projects to help communities and local governments reduce the amount of stormwater runoff that is damaging to the natural landscape. After reducing the amount of runoff, municipalities can implement filtration and containment systems to minimize pollution, erosion and flooding.
Dr. Hunter has high hopes for the SUMZ project.
“I’m very excited about the support we’ve received from the TEDCO MII program for the software we developed,” he stated. “Our research group, which included Dr. Dong Hee Kang and Hye Jeong Lee, hopes that the software will help a number of municipalities meet their growing regulatory obligations and fund efforts to meet their stormwater management goals.”
Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is celebrating its 150th year of excellence in higher education. A Carnegie-classified doctoral research institution, Morgan offers more than 100 academic programs leading to degrees from the baccalaureate to the doctorate. As Maryland’s designated Public Urban Research University, Morgan serves a multiethnic and multiracial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information about Morgan State University, visit www.morgan.edu.
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Dr. Victor R. McCrary