Professor Rico Del Sesto awarded a Technology Acceleration Grant

By Erin Hakoda

Dr. Rico Del Sesto, assistant professor of chemistry, was one of eight university researchers awarded funding through the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR).

“These projects are a testament to Utah’s innovative spirit,” USTAR Executive Director Dr. Ivy Estabrooke says. “We received strong applications and these awardees represent projects with high potential to make significant impact in real world application.”

Del Sesto, who exhibits the innovative spirit of Dixie State, is the first recipient from DSU to receive a University Technology Acceleration Grant (UTAG).  He is researching topical treatments for Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacterium that can cause infections throughout the body and is resistant to common antibiotics.

“We are proud and eager as Dr. Rico Del Sesto joins the ranks of respected innovative USTAR researchers,” says Sylvia Bradshaw, DSU director of sponsored programs. “Dr. Del Sesto is the first DSU professor to receive USTAR funding and the only researcher outside of the two major research institutions in Utah to be awarded. This is a major accomplishment that validates Dr. Del Sesto’s expertise and the momentum of Dixie State University.”

The UTAG program provides university researchers with funding for advanced stages of applied research and development activities to address the market gap where both federal funding and private investment are sparse. This program is specifically designed to help technologies with market potential reach a level of technical maturity to attract private investment. This competitive grant allows researchers to accelerate research and development, establish proof of concept, or perform product validation.

Independent peer review panels assessed applications prior to receiving final approval by the USTAR Governing Authority. Award amounts will be released pending final contract negotiations.

Del Sesto earned his doctorate from the University of Utah in the area of hybrid organic-inorganic magnetic materials. He received a National Academies of Science (National Research Council) Postdoctoral Fellowship, and experimented with some of the strangest organic materials for energy and materials applications at the US Air Force Academy. From there, he was offered a position at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, before he came to Dixie State in 2012.