I´m currently a junior Civil Engineering student with an emphasis on Environmental Engineering and a minor in Mathematics. Environmental engineering intrigues me the most out of all the branches of Civil Engineering because of the huge impact it has on society. This discipline is concerned with the quality and availability of environmental resources, as well as with more complex and chronic problems such as climate change, emerging contaminants, the overall health of ecosystems, and sustainability. The fact that environmental engineers can make an impact not only in the present, but in the future of society too is particularly exciting.
Upon completion of my first year as an undergraduate student, I started assisting Dr. Papelis, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at NMSU, on a research titled Microbially Enhanced Iron-Iron Modified Zeolite Permeable Reactive Barrier. This research has been my interest because it uses a very available and cost effective mineral to treat contaminants, such as arsenic and selenium, in groundwater with the help of microbial organisms. Arsenic and selenium can be harmful even at very low concentrations in water; therefore, it is extremely important to remove it for the health and safety of society. While doing this research I gained valuable experience and skills that would not be possible other way. In addition, I learned the significance of research for the improvement of society as the project I have been part of is very important for a sustainable future. To further my research experience, this past summer I worked as an REU student at North Carolina State University on a project related to exploring the removal of phosphate from wastewater using lanthanum carbonate nanoparticles. Phosphate is a nutrient that triggers eutrophication, which promotes harmful algal growths and therefore decreases the amount of dissolved oxygen in water. Consequently, the removal of this nutrient is essential for the preservation of ecosystems and the improvement of water quality. As of right now, I’m still working with Dr. Papelis on a research titled “Surface Complexation Modeling of Selenium Sorption on Iron-Modified Zeolites.” This is a continuation of the work I started as a sophomore and it will soon become the research work of my master’s degree.
During the last two and a half years at NMSU, I have also been involved in several organizations such as the American Society of Civil Engineers. Through leadership roles like Vice President of Fundraising, Secretary, and now, future President, I have gained significant experience. One of my priorities has always been to attract more students that are not aware of the development that we, as students, can have through different activities, networking, and conferences.
This summer, I plan on being part of the REU program here at NMSU, in order to apply what I have learned and learn even more about the research environment. After graduation I plan on attending graduate school, given that my ultimate goal is to obtain doctoral degree and become a professor.