Michael Desmarais attributes his love for science and math to great teachers in high school that sparked his interest early in the STEM fields. Chemical engineering was a natural outgrowth of that, he says. He notes that while chemical engineers may be working on a small scale in terms of molecules, nanotechnology, and so on, the impact the field has is much larger: from pharmacology to oil refinery technology, the enormous impact engineered chemicals have on modern life is a significant part of why he chose chemical engineering.
Michael was originally from Rhode Island and returned to attend the University of Rhode Island (URI). He graduates this spring with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, but this will not be his only degree from URI this year. In August, he will be joining the ranks of those graduating from the master’s program as well, having simultaneously worked towards an accelerated master’s degree, also in chemical engineering. He is currently working with Professor Geoffrey Bothun in the Bionanotechnology Lab.
He’s a leader; as president of the URI chapter of the American Institute of Chemical engineers he’s served as a liaison and a resource for students, connecting them with faculty and corporations outside of URI.
One of the things that has made Michael’s experience unique, he says, is the access students have to meaningful research opportunities, ones that allow them to see different aspects of the field they are choosing. These opportunities aren’t just for graduate students, he notes, and the contributions students make to the research are ones that they can then take with them as accomplishments when looking to find jobs after graduation. Michael himself has been able to contribute to the evaluation of fouling behavior in filtering microbial solutions through silver-nanoparticle coated ceramic membranes and the regeneration and reuse of silver nanoparticles in the filtration process in Bothun’s lab.
After the accelerated master’s degree, he intends to direct his focus on industry. He hopes to get a position that would allow him to apply the full scope of what he’s learned to the field.
This student received a 2016 University of Rhode Island College of Engineering Excellence award in their field of study. We are honoring this achievement by profiling them individually and looking at what makes each of them someone to look for big things from in the years ahead.