April 5, 2018
Ph.D. student, second year
Please describe your research
My research looks at the nutritional quality of one of the world’s most important staple food crops: rice. In particular, I examine arsenic, a critical contaminant, and zinc, an essential micronutrient. I investigate the soil, water and plant interactions involved in their uptake and the implications of environmental alterations, like climate change.
Do you conduct field work and/or travel as part of your research?
This year I will be conducting my first round of field work in the Tonle Sap region in Cambodia. For this research project, I will examine how damming of the Mekong River and other hydrologic changes can influence rice production and quality. I will be traveling to the Mekong twice a year to collect rice plant tissue and soil samples.
What do you enjoy most about your field of study?
Environmental engineering draws on desperate academic fields of study to answer pressing real-world problems. This allows me to fully utilize my hard science training and speak to individuals in different departments. It also allows me to feel that my research is directly valuable to communities all over the world.
How did you first become interested in engineering?
While completing my bachelor’s degree in Nebraska, I started working in an aquatic toxicology lab. The lab often collaborated with environmental engineers to look at the fate and transport of agrochemical runoff. While I had previously thought of engineers as building bridges and road systems, this experience opened me up to the diverse range of disciplines covered by engineering. While I completed my undergraduate degree in hard sciences, I was interested in taking a more applied route to my research, and so I began to consider environmental engineering.
What type of career do you plan to pursue?
I plan to continue to work as an academic researcher when I complete my degree.
How do you spend your spare time?
I really enjoy cooking and try to carve out adequate time each week to make something new! I also love exploring my new city of Seattle, by going out to local coffee shops, restaurants and theaters. Lastly, I try and balance a few runs or swims a week to destress after work.
Any other interesting/relevant details?
I just passed my qualifying exam, so you can officially call me a Ph.D. student!