Leslie Arrazolo and Kianna Broadman

NEWT Undergraduates: Shared Experiences in Mentoring

Leslie Arrazolo and Kianna Broadman are two friends and undergraduate students who have had the opportunity to get involved with NEWT while studying at Rice University. Leslie Arrazolo is a junior (Class of 2022), studying chemical and biomolecular engineering, and Kianna Broadman is also a junior, studying civil and environmental engineering. Here’s what they have to share about their experiences:

Leslie Arrazolo
Leslie Arrazolo
Kianna Broadman
Kianna Broadman

Leslie: I became involved with NEWT during my freshman year of college. After reading about NEWT’s research online in my university’s newsletter, I reached out to Dr. Rafael Verduzco, and shortly after, he paired me with my current mentor, Tanya Rogers, a graduate student in his lab. I have now been involved with NEWT for two years. The research experience has allowed me to learn important lab skills and project management skills. Furthermore, I have been able to learn practical skills from other engineering disciplines and what graduate school is all about. During my involvement at NEWT, I have participated as a mentor to K-12 teachers in the NEWT NanoEnvironmental Engineering for Teachers (NEET) course, and I am currently representing Rice as the Outreach Chair for the NEWT Student Leadership Council. ~~~
Although the pandemic has created challenges in students' educations and makes it difficult to create outreach events, we hope to take advantage of the flexibility that virtual platforms offer. Christina Crawford (Associate Director for Science & Engineering) and I have been working on the creation of the NEWT K-12 Virtual Tutoring Program, a partnership between six teachers from our community and graduate/undergraduate students from NEWT schools. NEWT students are paired with a teacher to provide virtual tutoring services to students in their classrooms. We hope this supplemental support can help students in these challenging times. As Dr. Verduzco, Tanya, and other graduate students in our lab have shared with me the world of research and engineering, I hope to create opportunities for NEWT to empower students in our surrounding community. I am very grateful for Dr. Verduzco for giving me this opportunity, and for Tanya and the other grad students in Dr. Verduzco’s lab, for being so welcoming and teaching me so many wonderful things. -

Kianna: As a sophomore, I took a class with Dr. Pedro Alvarez, which is where I learned about NEWT. Then, over the summer before my junior year, I was fortunate enough to join NEWT. I work on projects under Dr. Ibrahim Abdallah, mainly with Naomi Fuentes, who has been working with NEWT for a lot longer, and who has helped me greatly in learning about various projects. This semester, the projects that I learned about and worked on included one on surface heating membrane distillation and one with the capacitive deionization (CDI) system. ~~~ Working with NEWT has been my first time participating in research, so at first I was intimidated. However, Naomi is friendly and smart, so she taught me a great deal about each project and how to do various tasks in the lab, such as how to set up the surface heating membrane distillation circuit. Being able to learn about what NEWT does and assisting in projects has been a fantastic and interesting learning experience. I very much enjoy going to Ryon Lab to work with Naomi, helping out in whatever capacity is needed, whether that means preparing membranes for testing or calibrating a system. I still have much to learn, which is exciting, and I'm hoping to dedicate more time and be more involved with NEWT this next semester. Mostly, I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn more about water purification while at the same time contributing to solutions for water treatment! -

Interested in getting involved in K-12 Virtual Tutoring? Reach out to Leslie Arrazola

Are you an educator interested in getting involved in NEET? Contact Christina Crawford