A Celebration of Elimelech's "Spirit of Innovation"

Menachem Elimelech, the Roberto Goizueta Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, offered some advice to faculty gathered in President's Room of Woolsey Hall Tuesday.

"If you have some passionate student or postdoc who comes to you with some crazy, risky idea," Elimelech said, "just take the risk."

The crowd was gathered to celebrate the 2015 Eni Award that Elimelech recently won for his innovative work in water treatment. Elimelech attended a ceremony last month at the Quirinal Palace in Rome to receive the "Protection of the Environment Prize." President of Italy Sergio Mattarella was among those in attendance. Eni, the Italian energy company, created the Eni Awards in 2007 to promote better use of energy sources and inspire new generations of researchers.

At Tuesday's ceremony, SEAS Dean Kyle Vanderlick said that Elimelech's work reflected that of his mentor at Johns Hopkins, Charles O'Melia. The renowned pioneer in water treatment research was noted for having "demonstrated creativity, clear visions, and true excellence," Vanderlick said, and that this is "exactly the kind of thing that Meny does as well."

She handed Elimelech a photo of O'Melia, who passed away in 2010. "I'm going to leave you with this - it's as if he were here saying 'Congratulations, Meny, I'm so proud of you.'"

Pres. Peter Salovey could not be in attendance, but Prof. Jaehong Kim read a note from Salovey, noting Elimelech's "spirit of innovation and commitment to improving the world."

"This prestigious award recognizes that the school contributes ideas for a brighter future - a most fitting description of your groundbreaking work," Salovey wrote.

For his part, Elimelech urged students to follow their ideas and not give up.

"My own experience tells me that the harder I work, the luckier I get. You need to have passion and hard work, and everything will come."