NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Awarded to ENV Grad Students Sumukhi Prasad and Aydin Eskafi

 ENV Graduate Students Sumukhi Prasad and Aydin Eskafi are recipients of the 2023 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship.
ENV Graduate Students Sumukhi Prasad and Aydin Eskafi are recipients of the 2023 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship.
Featured Faculty: Cesunica Ivey, Baoxia Mi

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Sumukhi Prasad and Aydin Eskafi, recipients of the 2023 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship! The fellowship offers three years of support over five years, including an annual stipend of $37,000. The purpose of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is to ensure the quality, vitality, and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce. 

Prasad is a graduate student researcher in the Environmental Engineering program, advised by Prof. Sunni Ivey. She earned a Bachelor of Science (Environmental Engineering) degree at The University of Texas at Austin and her M.S. (Environmental Engineering) degree at UC Berkeley. 

"As someone who is relatively new to the research realm, I have consistently struggled with Imposter’s Syndrome, says Prasad. However, the amount of rigor that went into applying to the NSF GRFP amid balancing a part-time internship, a teaching assistant position, and three courses affirmed in me that I have the discipline, perseverance, and passion to make my visions come to life. I want to thank my mentor and advisor, Dr. Ivey, and my peers in the CEE department for supporting me through the application process and for consistently being so committed to unraveling my potential as my research interests develop over time."

Prasad's research interests lie in the nexus of air pollution modeling, psychological and physiological health impacts from air pollution, and disparities in air pollution exposures among historically excluded communities. She notes that during her Ph.D., the NSF GRFP will go towards supporting her long-term vision to influence local policymakers to create concrete solutions to the rampant air pollution health effects in the local community. Prasad hopes that her future research can parameterize mobility in existing source apportionment models through the use of passive sampling wristbands to identify the sources that are most fractionally contributing to Stockton, California’s rampant health effects. 

Aydin Eskafi is a Ph.D. candidate in the Environmental Engineering program, advised by Prof. Baoxia Mi. He earned a B.S. (Chemical Engineering) degree at the University of Michigan and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. (Environmental Engineering) at UC Berkeley.

"My GRFP project involves designing a method for sustainably recovering lithium from saline brines, says Eskafi. Lithium is an essential ion as the world transitions toward the zero-carbon future necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. A steady, reliable supply of lithium is necessary for the millions of batteries needed for electric cars and renewable energy storage. My research with Prof. Baoxia Mi focuses on using interfacial solar evaporation (a method for passively increasing the evaporation rate of water) to recover lithium as the water is evaporating. This will allow us to sustainably and efficiently recover the material. Receiving the NSF GRFP is hugely important to me because it will allow me to continue working on this project and push it toward new exciting applications. I’m thrilled to continue researching this project as I work on my Ph.D. in the next few years here at Berkeley."