ASU Developing DOD-Backed Pollen Sourcing For Roadside Bombs

Published: Friday, May 17, 2019 - 2:39pm
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2019 - 2:42pm
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Photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain National Park.
This microscopic view of Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) pollen shows the characteristic pine form: one large, inflated chamber flanked by two smaller ones.

Arizona State University is one of 24 applicants to receive funding under the Department of Defense Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative.

ASU's Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions will use the $6.25 million to track the origins of roadside bombs using pollen.

Palynology, the study of pollen grains and other spores, has seen wide use in archaeological and geological reconstructions of past environments.

But because pollen is widespread and resilient, it's also useful in forensic applications, such as studying the movements of bodies in mass graves.

ASU researchers plan to develop tools and technologies to rapidly capture, sort and analyze pollen; solve spatial problems; and improve data on species distribution.

They then will use the pollen signatures to trace the origins of items such as computers, undetonated explosives and papers.

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