We are proud to announce our newest recipient of the GEM Environmental Undergraduate Scholarship Award, Menelik James.
Menelik James is a Chemical Engineering senior who attends Prairie View A&M University located near Houston, Texas. He has a passion for environmental research with a focus on water treatment and renewable energy applications.
Menelik has conducted non-equilibrium plasma applications for water purification at the NASA Glenn Research Center, membrane and thin film research at his home institution, microporous polymer synthesis and development for carbon dioxide capture and separation from post-combustion flue gas at a U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory, and most recently hydrogen peroxide powered fuel cell research at Stanford University.
His primary research and career goal is to develop and deploy mature water treatment technologies at scale and in a cost-effective manner to developing nations. Aside from research Menelik enjoys cooking, attending live music shows, and skydiving.
“I value STEM education because it serves as an opportunity to expose minority youth to exciting fields of study and potential career paths that were previously unknown to them. As a member of the collegiate 100 Black Men, I’m a mentor in our high school mentee program serving underprivileged youth in the greater Houston Area. Communicating my experiences as a 2nd generation Jamaican American, advising them on the college application process, various funding opportunities, and introducing them to STEM research are the primary ways I engage the youth. Inviting professors from my university and distinguished alumna to come speak with the mentees is an essential component of the mentorship process.”
Menelik’s choice to pursue an environmental engineering Ph.D. stems from his desire to develop innovative water and sanitation (W&S) technologies that will improve humanity’s quality of life but also preserve and protect the planet. The primary focus of protecting humans from adverse environmental effects, such as pollution and improving environmental quality by advancing recycling, waste disposal, public health, and other green practices is critical for the survival and health of planet earth and the life it supports.
Environmental engineering’s focus meshes seamlessly with his desire to serve humanity by engaging in efforts toward providing solutions for issues like sanitation and wastewater purification to developing countries. As an engineer, he hope to engage in research and development efforts toward innovative technologies that can address emerging contaminants such as Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in water treatment plant effluent and improving the long-term safety of engineered water sources.
Menelik plans to gain valuable hands-on lab research experience that will allow him to contribute to innovative solutions. Following the completion of graduate school, his long-term goal is to become a professor. By being a professor of environmental engineering, he hopes to serve humanity by solving technical water research issues. It is his aspiration to educate future scientists and engineers about complex problems facing humanity such as clean water scarcities, population growth, and climate change.
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