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Junior Julianne Chan found a passion for environmental engineering research as a freshman. A school leader, she has been a research assistant in the Fahrenfeld Research group, run by civil and environmental engineering Associate Professor Nicole Fahrenfeld and has been named a 2023 NOAA Hollings Scholar and is the recipient of the Udall Scholarship.

Female Asian college student wearing a navy blue dress and a name tag.

Why Rutgers? 

I chose Rutgers because of its countless research opportunities! It’s close to many big companies, which comes in handy when looking for internships. 

Why environmental engineering? 

I initially wanted to study biomedical engineering and become a doctor; I was an emergency medical technician (EMT) and volunteered at a hospital throughout high school. But after taking Introduction to Engineering, I changed my mind and am majoring in environmental engineering because I was really interested in the research being conducted in the department.

Have you been involved in any research projects? 

I've worked as a research assistant in Professor Fahrenfeld's lab for over a year now. As part of her microplastics team, I have sampled stormwater for microplastics, and contributed to creating a database compiling microplastic studies to find trends in methodology and microplastic concentrations.  

This year, I’m working on a project supported by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to extract microplastics from different stages of wastewater,  

It's been very rewarding – last May I presented my research at the New Jersey Water Environment Association (NJWEA) Annual Conference and I'm a co-author on a paper. 

Have you had any internships? 

My first internship was through the Aresty Summer Science Program the summer after my freshman year, when I first conducted research with Professor Fahrenfeld on microplastics in stormwater 

Last summer, I was an environmental health and safety intern at Merck & Co. Inc. This was a great first look into industry – I learned so much about pharmaceutical waste and industrial health. 

As a 2023 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Hollings Scholar, I receive a scholarship for two years and a summer 2024 internship at any NOAA facility in the country.  So far, this has been an incredible experience – I was even on a call with the Secretary of Commerce – that  has opened doors I never thought existed and motivates me to pursue research. 

What about extracurricular activities?  

I'm involved in way too many things. I'm a senior peer reviewer for the Rutgers Undergraduate Research Journal and a peer instructor for the Aresty Research Assistant Program. I'm a Senior Engineering Ambassador and run our social media and assist with campus tours and panels about engineering. I’m the Engineers Without Borders lead of Project Camden, that builds sheds that harvest rainwater and smart irrigation systems in Camden's community gardens to help combat food insecurity. I am also the Engineering Governing Council representative for the American Society of Civil Engineers. 

Besides clubs, I was a learning assistant for Calculus II last year and am currently a math grader for Differential Equations. I really like math so I try to be as involved with the math department as I can. 

What are your plans for the future? 

Next year, I hope to apply for my PhD in environmental engineering studying contaminants in water. One day I want to work for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or NOAA and become a professor! 

Do you have any advice for new students? 

College is what you make of it! Put 100% of your effort in, get 100% of the reward. 

What three words describe your SoE experience? 

Busy. Fulfilling. Motivating.