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Mast named a 2015 EREF Scholar for her work on recovering heavy metals from coal ash

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Doctoral student Laura Mast has won a scholarship from the Environmental Research & Education Foundation for her work recovering rare metals from coal ash.

Mast, in her second year of studies, is working to synthesize new agents that will extract what are known as rare earth elements from the complex ash leftover from coal combustion. It’s important work for modern “green” technologies, Mast said, since the elements are used in everything from electric car batteries and wind turbines to LEDs and smartphones.

“EREF is a great and strategic partner to have in research as I pursue my career in resource recovery,” said Mast, who is studying with Ching-Hua Huang in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

“This non profit organization is a really important connector between industry and research, making sure that the research is [working on] things the industry actually needs and wants. The networking opportunities through this scholarship are going to be extremely valuable for my career.”

Once she finishes her doctoral studies, Mast said she wants to work as a researcher and consultant in resource recovery to ensure a stable supply of rare earth elements. Eventually, she said, she wants to get involved in public policy for hazardous and nonhazardous waste management.