Assistant Professor Sara Mollamohammada joined the University of St. Thomas as the newest member of the civil engineering faculty, and she is on a mission to help find easy, accessible ways to provide clean, safe water in remote and rural areas.
WHAT KIND OF RESEARCH ARE YOU DOING?
My research is primarily focused on using algae as an efficient alternative technology to remove contaminants of environmental concern from water and wastewater. This process will lower the health risks associated with the presence of contaminants in water and will produce valuable biomass which can be used as a source of green energy. The development of such a system starts from using the ideal conditions in the lab, followed by using actual water and wastewater samples.
WHERE DID YOUR PASSION FOR WATER RESOURCES ENGINEERING COME FROM?
As an undergraduate student, I found environmental engineering to be very interesting and decided to pursue a career within that field. When I got involved in water treatment troubleshooting and designing, I found a higher calling. Over time, I have been involved with Engineers Without Borders, an organization that visits developing countries to help with various civil engineering projects (water, building, etc.). Within this organization, I learned about the need these developing countries have for water treatment plants in remote areas. We are fortunate to have clean drinking water and often take it for granted. There are many places in the world, especially in more rural areas, that do not have access to safe water. This sparked my passion to bring forth positive contributions within this field.
WHAT IS YOUR TEACHING PHILOSOPHY?
I love teaching! My philosophy has always been that if you can engage your students, they will fall in love with the subject and remarkable things can come from that! I like to mix things up in my classroom: hands-on projects, guest speakers and field trips whenever possible. When you provide students with real-world, hands-on experiences and opportunities, they start seeing possibilities and become curious learners.
This story is featured in the spring 2023 issue of St. Thomas Engineer.