Environmental Sustainability Draws College’s Newest University Fellows

University of Arizona international PhD students in Engineering are working to clean up mining waste and improve solar energy systems.

Junmo Ahn and José Luis Ruiz Duarte, international graduate students with high marks from their alma maters, have joined the UA College of Engineering as 2016-2017 University Fellows.

Ahn, a doctoral student from South Korea in mining and geological engineering, is studying how biotechnology can reduce the environmental effects of mining waste while also extracting valuable resources from it. He has a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering from Konkuk University and a master’s in civil and environmental engineering from Seoul National University.

Ruiz DuarteRuiz Duarte, a doctoral student from Mexico in systems and industrial engineering, has a bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering and a master’s in industrial engineering from the University of Sonora, Mexico, where he conducted research on optimization and data analytics. At the UA, he is investigating how these and other systems engineering disciplines can be used to develop and integrate solar energy systems.

“I hope to transfer the knowledge I obtain from this research to my hometown, Hermosillo, which gets about 300 days of sunshine each year but has very few houses and organizations that use solar energy,” Ruiz Duarte said.When they aren’t conducting engineering research to make the world a better place, both Ahn and Ruiz Duarte enjoy playing the guitar.

The UA Graduate College established the University Fellows Program in 2014 to provide financial support, professional development, mentoring and community engagement opportunities for the top-ranked incoming graduate students to develop the next generation of leading interdisciplinary scholars, artists and practitioners. Fellows are selected and recruited by the Graduate Center in collaboration with deans and academic program coordinators throughout the University. 

This year’s 24 University Fellows come from four continents and include members of underrepresented minority groups and 13 women.


Top picture: As an undergraduate, University Fellow Jumno Ahn was a member of his college's classical guitar club in Korea. (Photo courtesy of Minkeun Song)