CE-CERT is proud to announce the recipients of the 2020-2021 Scholarship Awards. Nine students were awarded a total of $32,000 in recognition of their commitment to academic and research excellence. We would like to congratulate them on their hard work, and to thank our generous donors who made these awards possible.

Graduate Awardees

Khanh Do, Chemical Engineering
Esther F. Hays Graduate Fellowship Award
Khanh Do

" I want to be a developer for the Community Multiscale Air Quality Model and improve its representation of atmospheric processes. I will integrate machine learning into atmospheric modeling software to reduce simulation time and increase the accuracy."

Khanh is currently working on a project to investigate why the ozone concentrations of the South Coast Air Basin (SoCAB) have slightly increased despite the efforts of SCAQMD to reduce the anthropogenic emissions over the past 30 years. His ultimate research goal is to utilize large air quality and climate datasets, and turn the data into digital recognized patterns. This deep learning trick reduces an enormous amount of computing power, energy costs, and run time, accelerating research.


Sahar Ghadimi, Chemical & Environmental Engineering
Colin E. Hackett Graduate Research Award


Sahar Ghadimi

“I really love the environment and would like to save it for future generations, including my children. I believe air pollution control research is one of the most important areas that affects global warming and public health.”

Sahar’s research focuses on the investigation of SOA formation from heavy duty vehicles (with engines that are equipped with different after-treatments) using a batch reactor (smog chamber). The physicochemical properties and the composition of the secondary aerosols from the exhaust emissions of each vehicle/fuel combination are collected and examined in the Mobile Atmospheric Chamber. She really enjoys teaching and hopes to stay in academia as a faculty in one of the top universities. This fellowship will provide opportunities to attend teaching workshops.


Jia Jiang, Chemical & Environmental Engineering
Esther F. Hays Graduate Fellowship


Jia Jiang

“Before I started my PhD career, I was a weather forecaster in China. One of my daily tasks was to provide the air quality index to the public. I wanted to make a contribution to China’s air quality problem and improve this situation. This inspired me to quit my job and apply for a PhD program in air quality.”

Jia has developed a semi-explicit gas-phase chemical mechanism for furans. This mechanism is compatible with current and prior versions of the wildly used SAPRC gas-phase mechanism. The new mechanism was developed to facilitate a broad application of the mechanism for atmospheric and air quality modeling. Following her PhD, her goal is to obtain a research position in an air quality agency – using her knowledge to improve air quality and public health.


Brenda Lopez Reyna, Mechanical Engineering
Jim Guthrie Research Award


Brenda Lopez

I would like to be remembered for being tenacious. When I set my mind on something, I always find a way to achieve it. This trait has led me to become a strategic thinker finding unique ways to solve problems that are not apparent.”

Brenda’s current research project focuses on studying non-tailpipe emissions from light and heavy-duty vehicles. Particularly, brake and tire wear emissions from the California 5 freeway in Anaheim and the 710 highway in Long Beach. She eventually plans to get her PhD at the University of California, Riverside and engage in environmental policy making and advocate for STEM research funding.


Candice Sirmollo, Chemical & Environmental Engineering
Esther F. Hays Graduate Fellowship Award


Candice Sirmollo

Being a first-generation college graduate has resulted in challenges during my education but has also helped me to grow in perseverance and has provided me with a very supportive community of mentors, family, and friends that encourage me to stay motivated with my studies and research.”

Candice’s current research focuses on the growth and atmospheric processing of small particles in the atmosphere, under ambient conditions. Some of these particles will grow to large enough sizes to serve as secondary sources of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN), which have an indirect effect on climate. Her goal is to go on a field campaign at a rural site in Oklahoma, using the newly designed dual chamber system to investigate the growth and processing of small particles in the atmosphere.


Golden Se, Chemical Engineering
Ford Motor Company Undergraduate Scholarship Award


Golden Se

As I’ve continued to grow and learn more about engineering, I realized that the most valuable thing that I could gain from my chemical engineering degree was the mindset - how to approach and problem solve issues with a process viewpoint, and to apply that mindset to situations both inside and out of engineering contexts.”

Golden is currently helping to research and develop the fermentation of biomass to produce ethanol. She intends to help further research and optimize ethanol production through fermentation.


Zhensong Wei, Electrical Engineering
William R. Pierson/Ford Graduate Award


Zhensong Wei

“I chose this major because I wanted to develop real-world applications that can contribute to improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Zhensong’s current research focuses on deep learning-based vehicle control and traffic management systems to help vehicles improve safety and reduce energy consumption in different driving scenarios. His future research goals are to develop vehicle automation applications associated with driving safety and energy management, which can be applied to fully autonomous vehicles. Post-graduation Zhensong hopes to continue his work in the industry to reduce vehicle emissions and energy consumption.



Ningjin Xu, Chemical & Environmental Engineering
Salim Khan Graduate Award


Ningjin Xu

“This award gave me more confidence about my research and I will be continuously hardworking in my future projects.”

Motivated by the increasing demand for precise aerosol qualitative measurement techniques, Ningjin helped design a new PFA-based oxidation flow reactor to examine its characterization in both laboratory and field. The results show that the PFA aerosol oxidation flow reactor is applicable to measure the secondary aerosol formation potential of real-time ambient measurements, which can be used to study both quantitative laboratory measurements and rapidly changing ambient source tests. After graduation he plans to secure a postdoctoral position to continue research.


Hanwei Zhu, Chemical & Environmental Engineering
J. Wayne Miller and Thomas D. Durbin Research Award


Hanwei Zhu

“This award will help broaden my knowledge and it is a great honor that will make me a greater person.”

Hanwei’s current research focus is on characterizing emissions from in-use heavy-duty vehicles and heavy-duty engines. He is extremely passionate about his field of work and hopes to publish many papers and share his research with people around the world.



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