Andrea SalazarMajor: Chemical and Materials Engineering Mentor: Dr. Catherine Brewer, Assistant Professor,Chemical and Materials Engineering at New Mexico State University
Throughout my college career I have had many opportunities to receive and offer help. New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation (NM AMP) has been an amazing source of inspiration ever since I was accepted during the second semester of my freshman year. For example, during an NM AMP meeting there was a presentation about studying abroad while finishing a STEM degree. Fast-forward 6 months and I was awarded the Gilman International Scholarship that allowed me to finance my study abroad experience for a year in Seoul, South Korea for my major in Chemical Engineering. As part of my time in South Korea I was also able to volunteer at the Sogang University research laboratory. As an ambassador for the College of Engineering at New Mexico State University, it has been my task for 3 semesters to connect with current and future students in the form of mentoring, participating in outreach events, and hosting college information sessions locally. While in the Society of Women Engineers, I spoke to groups of young women in an effort to spark their interest in STEM. Next, I plan to extend the reach of my activism to female underclassmen and other minorities to raise awareness about the benefits of undergraduate research along with the opportunities the NM AMP program presents.
I have been able to zero in on my passion: to use environmental, economic, and social knowledge to help save the world from itself in terms of its resource and energy consumption. I want to be an engineer that can help create and implement sustainable solutions because I understand that resource scarcity affects the most vulnerable people in our communities first. As part of my research I have analyzed the viability of local invasive plant species biomass as a feedstock for producing biochar in effort to create a sustainable supply chain of crop soil additive that has the potential to increase soil water retention. I can draw many parallels between my passion and my research especially in effort to have a broader impact on my community and this region.
Invasive species mitigation through pyrolysis and torrefaction
Biomass is organic matter that takes up a certain volume and has mass. The valorization of biomass, which can sometimes be seen as waste,is the conversion of a material to a more useful material.