Rei Alcalde is no stranger to research. As a McNair Scholar and a UCARE undergraduate researcher, Rei worked with Dr. David Admiraal on a fluid mechanics and hydrology research project in UNL’s department of civil engineering. Determined to gather additional research experience before applying to graduate school, Rei looked for opportunities available through the Committee on Institutional Cooperation’s (CIC) Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP). The CIC SROP application allows you to apply to a variety of widely-recognized summer research programs at participating CIC institutions using a single application. As part of the SROP application, Rei could select several CIC schools to review his application. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was one of his top choices since it offered the opportunity to work on innovative environmental engineering research topics. Rei received an offer from his top choice and traveled to Urbana-Champaign for the summer.
Rei conducted research under the guidance of Professor Charles Werth and graduate student mentor Kyle Michelson in the department of civil and environmental engineering. Over the course of the summer, he explored how microbiological activity (e.g. biofilms, nanowires) enhances the physical mixing zone between an electron donor and a metal contaminant in groundwater for bioremediation enhancement. Rei hoped to find a way to make groundwater safe. His research contributed to the development of cost-effective solutions for cleaning hazardous groundwater sites vital for future water sustainability. As part of his research, Rei developed a proposal and a research paper, and presented the research at the Illinois Research Symposium. When he returned to UNL, he published his findings in the McNair Scholars Research Journal .
“Through this program, I developed relationships with other professors and graduate students beneficial for my future in graduate studies,” says Rei. Now he is one step closer to his goal: applying to graduate school to obtain a doctoral degree in environmental engineering with a focus on water quality. He hopes to address water quality issues by becoming an adept researcher and teacher in the university setting. His work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will bring him one step closer to working on cutting-edge water quality issues in the 21st century.
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“Through this program, I developed relationships with other professors and graduate students beneficial for my future in graduate studies.”