Jun Kim, graduate student in civil and environmental engineering, has won a Best Student Paper Award at the annual meeting of the Southeast Chapter of the Texas American Water Works Association, or AWWA. One of two winners, he received a $1,000 scholarship and a certificate.
"I was really lucky," said Kim. "I'm really honored. It is my first time during my Ph.D. to get a scholarship from outside of Rice."
The AWWA is a scientific and educational society dedicated to the effective management of water. It is the largest organization of water supply professionals in the world. The Texas Section of AWWA unites all water professionals in Texas to protect public health and water resources by advancing technology, education, science, management and government policies.
Kim said he appreciated the experience of the meeting as well.
"I met all of the committee members during the seminar, and they really appreciated and read my paper very carefully. I felt really honored, and I [now] feel more passionate about research and my future career development."
His research, performed under the direction of adviser Qilin Li, deals with desalination, specifically the selective removal of some ions from water.
The conventional method, called capacitive deionization or CDI, is a process that deionizes water by applying an electrical potential. Kim's research is taking this a step further by targeting specific ions.
"If we target certain ions we are using less energy," he said. "Most of the ions are nontoxic, for example sodium chloride. We focus on removing heavy metals or toxic ions, and scale-forming ions."
Kim said he is looking forward to the research moving out of the lab and into the field.
"We are planning to start pilot testing in the Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT) center right now," he said. "We are hoping to move our technology from bench-scale in a lab to pilot-scale in a field, and then actual plant-scale later. It is a starting point, moving from a small-scale to pilot-scale."