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Eight Students Recognized in Dow Sustainability Innovation Challenge

Eight Northwestern students have won prizes in the Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge, an initiative to recognize exceptional work by students who are engaged in ongoing scientific, technical or social research to develop innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to meet human needs while also protecting the environment, promoting economic growth and achieving social welfare, now and into the future.

The winners of the $10,000 prizes are:

Joseph Warfel for his work to improve the efficiency and distribution system in the operation of food banks. Joseph’s work is supervised by Karen Smilowitz, associate professor of industrial engineering and management sciences. Joseph’s proposal is the highest scoring in this year’s challenge. He will represent Northwestern University at Dow’s annual event at the University of California-Berkeley in October.

Mark Huntington, Nishant Patni, and James Riley for their work to create an energy-efficient and compact version of a mask aligner – one of the most crucial pieces of equipment used for semiconductor research and manufacturing. Their work is supervised by Teri Odom, associate professor of chemistry and materials science and engineering.

The winners of the $5,000 prizes are:

Eneda Hoxha, under the supervision of Raj Kishore, associate professor of medicine in cardiology and molecular pharmacology and biological chemistry, for her work to create an incentive-based system of folic acid distribution where local entrepreneurs, who are familiar with local customs, persuade their existing clientele to purchase fortified food products.

Marianne Lalonde, under the supervision of Joseph Hupp, professor of chemistry, for her work to develop a portable, economical porous filter material that has a high affinity for lead and is easily synthesized.

One proposal received Honorable Mentions and a $500 prize:

Arman Nabatiyan and Swati Satish under the supervision of David Kelso, clinical professor of biomedical engineering, for their work to develop a rapid, low cost and accurate molecular test for cervical cancer screening in the developing world.

A reception to honor these students will take place on Wed. June 15 from 2-4 p.m. in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Conference Room (Tech A230). The students will exhibit poster presentations of their work.

Northwestern prize winners join winners from six other universities – Cambridge, Peking, Tufts, Michigan, Berkeley and Sao Paolo – that are also part of the Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge.

Kimberly Gray, professor of civil and environmental engineering, stated, “I’m thrilled that Northwestern University is able to feature this extraordinary work that our students and faculty are doing to develop environmentally sound, economically viable and socially equitable solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems. We are grateful to the Dow Chemical Company Foundation for partnering with us in this international effort to promote sustainability.”

The Dow Chemical Company Foundation oversees the Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge. Eligible areas of research include sustainable chemistry, energy efficiency and conservation, reducing climate change impact, life cycle product safety, and sustainable freshwater supply and distribution.

"The award-winning students of Northwestern University, and all the students who compete in this challenge, are sources of inspiration to Dow and to the world,” said Neil Hawkins, Sc.D. Vice President Sustainability & Environment, Health & Safety at Dow. “When you see how deeply they care about the problems, and you see that passion applied to the laws of science in their work, you gain a renewed appreciation for how important our young leaders are to the planet's future."