Batten’s Bala Mulloth Awarded $100,000 to Empower Students to Solve Global Problems in Air Pollution

Bala Mulloth, left, and Gaurav Giri
Bala Mulloth, left, and Gaurav Giri are the co-founders of Hava, Inc. (Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications)

Batten Professor Bala Mulloth and UVA Engineering Professor Gaurav Giri have been awarded $100,000 for their work to mobilize students to learn about and help address the global air pollution crisis. Their project is one of 14 to be selected this year for funding by the Jefferson Trust, an initiative of the University of Virginia Alumni Association. Mulloth and Giri are the co-founders of Hava, Inc., a global startup that aims to create affordable air filtration products to make life in polluted cities healthier for all residents.

“We’re honored and grateful to the Jefferson Trust for their support, which will help us take Hava’s proprietary technology forward in socially conscious ways,” said Mulloth. “The support will help us create a platform for engaged students to take ownership of the air pollution problem in ways that reflect collective problem solving and universal solutions.

In October 2018, the World Health Organization officially labeled air pollution “a silent public health emergency.” Through Mulloth and Giris initiative, students from across Grounds will gain familiarity with the air pollution crisis and the most recent air filtration technologies, and will partner with stakeholders worldwide to study the impact of those technologies.

The initiative is specifically geared toward entrepreneurially-minded students who are interested in working with faculty to bring emerging research and new air filtration technologies to market. By encouraging an active approach to learning and engagement with multiple stakeholders, Mulloth and Giri hope students will develop practical, hands-on experience in addition to competencies in critical and creative thinking.

“The goal is to take the raw material of our innovation and contribute to broad human progress,” said Mulloth. “Working with local governments, citizens, and the private sector, we hope to be able to not only provide a technology-driven solution but also address the root causes of air pollution by conducting workshops in partnership with local environmental advocacy groups with the aim of creating systemic changes and providing policy recommendations.”

Established in 2006, the Jefferson Trust is an unrestricted endowment that distributes funds annually through a University-wide grant program. The trusts mission is to support initiatives that enhance teaching, scholarship and research, allow faculty and students to work closely together while engaging in hands-on learning, and enable the University community to make an impact on other communities locally, nationally and globally.

More details on the project can be found on the Jefferson Trust website.