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Sustainable Engineering Graduate Student among Seventeen Villanovans to Win Prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Grant

Christa Cook

Christa Cook, who is graduating this year with her master’s degree in Sustainable Engineering, is one of the University’s 17 Fulbright award recipients for 2020-21. Cook is headed to Brazil where she will engage in lab and field work with Dr. Luana Mattos de Oliveira Cruz from the State University of Campinas to conduct research into safely managed rural sanitation. She explains, “In response to the underdeveloped sanitation sector in Brazil, this research focuses on building a low cost, decentralized wastewater system using local material in an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable manner customized to the Brazilian context.” Cook’s overarching goal is to evaluate the effectiveness of using coconut husks in an anerobic digester as a form of wastewater treatment in rural areas outside of Campinas, Brazil. This work will advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and Brazil’s formal sanitation plan.

Cook says, “I'm really looking forward to representing Villanova abroad!” and she expresses her appreciation to the University’s Center for Research and Fellowships (CRF) whose involvement in the application process she credits to her success.

In addition to the University’s 17 award recipients, eight other Villanovans were selected as alternates, including graduating Civil Engineering senior Erin O'Shea who applied for an English Teaching Assistantship in Spain. Twenty-one others earned recognition as semi-finalists, among them Paul Sarles ’20 ChE who sought a study-research opportunity in Taiwan. Villanova has been listed among the nation’s top producers of Fulbright Students for more than a decade, and the University has had at least one student selected for the coveted award each year since 1994.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program, offering students grants to conduct research, study and teach abroad. Villanova students and alumni interested in applying for external awards, including the Fulbright, should visit the CRF website for more information.