EnvE Student Receives Fulbright Award

Environmental engineering graduate student Lauren Mazurowski has received a Fulbright Award, one the nation’s most prestigious international educational exchange programs. Mazurowski will spend a semester studying ion separations in wastewater alongside researchers at the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research (ZIWR) in Israel. 

The Fulbright program is an international educational exchange program designed to build relationships between people in the U.S. and around the world with the aim of solving global challenges. The program is funded through the U.S. Department of State and grant recipients are selected based on academic and professional achievement as well as a record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields.

A second-year Environmental Engineering Ph.D. student in the lab of Menachem Elimelech, Mazurowski broadly focuses on investigating precise ion separations in industrial wastewaters to recover valuable resources. Industrial wastewaters can be rich with valuable elements like lithium, cobalt, and platinum and these elements can be recovered for reuse in renewable energy technologies and beyond. Researchers must identify sustainable and scalable methods that can separate almost identical ions from each other – for example, cobalt ions and nickel ions - to then recover the actual metals. To do so, Mazurowski utilizes electrodialysis, a membrane-based separation technology where ions are moved by the application of an electric field, to selectively recover the targeted ions.

Her Fulbright Scholarship will take her Israel to work with Dr. Oded Nir, one of her research group’s current collaborators, to expand upon her research. She will be investigating how wastewater composition affects selectivity in these separations, or how well the membranes can perform transporting just the targeted ions. Mazurowski will also have access to Nir’s expert knowledge in electrodialysis process engineering and his unique laboratory equipment at ZIWR that will help advance the research.

In addition to her Fulbright research, Mazurowski will also be involved in “Drop in the Desert,” a ZIWR program that exposes high school students from nearby Bedouin communities to scientific work and its contributions to issues related to water and the environment. 

"I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn in one of the world-leading countries for water innovation and to my advisor, Dr. Elimelech, for his support in applying to the Fulbright," Mazurowski said. 

Mazurowski, a born and raised Reno native, attributes her passion for water treatment to a series of eye-opening travels and projects that have shown her just how many people still do not have access to clean water, and the positive impact that effective public utilities have on a society’s growth. She received her B.S. and M.S. in Environmental Engineering at University of Nevada, Reno working under Dr. Krishna Pagilla. In addition to her Fulbright Scholarship, Mazurowski was awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation and recently placed first in the 2022 NSF Perfect Pitch Competition.