Manuel MartinezMajor: Chemical and Materials Engineering Mentor: Dr. Reza Foudazi, Assistant Professor,Chemical & Materials Engineering Department at New Mexico State University
Working on attaining my undergraduate degree has been a journey full of personal growth and self-discovery. I began my studies as a chemistry major at the University of Texas at El Paso, following my longtime favorite subject. Throughout my coursework, I began to develop a strong liking for organic chemistry which then led me to ask my professor for an opportunity to participate in undergraduate research. After completing my sophomore and a year of research, I began to look for internships and I was fortunate enough to complete three internships at the Western Refining laboratory.
My internship experiences were a turning point in my academic career since these opportunities introduced me to the chemical engineering field and made me realize how much more fascinated I felt about that field. After some decision making, I decided to transfer to New Mexico State University and pursue a BS in Chemical Engineering.
Currently, I am in my junior year of the chemical engineering program and plan to graduate in May 2018. I applied for the NM Alliance for Minority Participation Undergraduate Research Scholar (URS) program for Fall 2016 and since have been conducting research under Dr. Foudazi’s Soft Matter Research & Technology research group. Where my current research consists of the introduction of Polymerization-Induced Microphase Separation (PIPS) for the development of water filtration membranes.
Preparation of Water Purification Membranes via Polymerization Induced Microphase Separation
The need for clean water has always been a major issue for the modern society. From industrial processes to municipal drinking water, the use of water filtration membranes technologies has revolutionized the way we obtain clean water. However, most ultrafiltration membranes in use today can be costly and become ineffective due to mechanical failures and scaling. A new alternative has been proposed which consists of developing filtration membranes via polymerization-induced microphase separation (PIMS). This polymerization technique allows the creation of a bi-continuous structure with tunable domain sizes. Selective removal of one of the phases after PIMS, which produces pores in nanometer range, can be employed to make ultrafiltration membranes for water treatment. The ability to select different pore sizes while maintaining the membrane mechanically robust can potentially eliminate common issues in current filtration membranes.