Catherine Ninah

Rising Junior
Industrial Engineering
University of Central Florida
CEINT Research Site: Lab of Dr. Mark Wiesner and Dr. Christine Hendren, Duke University

Spending the summer in Durham, North Carolina, where I first started my day passing through the Duke Gardens on the way to work and then entered the Center for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology, an innovative, cross-disciplinary, and world-renowned research site focused on the impact and characteristics of all types of nanoparticles on the environment, I can undoubtedly say that this was an extraordinary experience that I will never forget. I had no background in nanotechnology but through seminars, presentations, lab tours, firsthand research experience, and discussions, I was able to not only learn about this exciting and rapidly growing field but also contribute to the field through my research project and the writing of a manuscript. I shared this experience with similarly goal-oriented peers who were incredibly intelligent, friendly, helpful, and always up for a weekend adventure in North Carolina! I really enjoyed the thrill of creating new knowledge in this field. I was able to have input in designing and scoping my project from beginning to end and used an approach that is the first of its kind in the world to model the release of nanoparticles into environmental compartments. I had great mentorship as we were able to systematically create and implement a new methodology to address a challenging area to completion in ten weeks. After leaving my meetings with Dr. Hendren, I always felt energized and excited for what we would accomplish in the upcoming week. I most recently shared the findings of my summer project at the Research Symposium to the National Science Foundation program directors outside of Washington, DC.

Career Impacts

From my CEINT REU, I learned that I could apply Industrial Engineering concepts to address environmental impacts. In the fall, I began conducting environmental engineering research at my home university through a collaboration I helped form between the Industrial Engineering Department and the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. This REU was the first time that I worked in a research position full-time and the first time that I was exposed to what life as a professor and research is like. I am now planning to attend graduate school where I will focus on modeling these areas. I am pursuing a career in academia where I can both teach students and conduct research while mentoring future researchers. I plan to be the first person in my family to attend graduate school.