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Joe Roy-Mayhew

"I found MIT to be an open door of possibilities. I could work on science, engineering, and policy at the same time with people who really wanted to make an impact on the world. ChemE teaches you to think broadly, and you can use this knowledge to pursue any path."

Joe Roy-Mayhew '08

My primary research area is biofuels. I think this is a very monumental time in which our actions in the next decade will play a huge role with regards to the global climate in the future. I have an opportunity to participate in having a meaningful effect in the world by trying to tackle a piece of the energy challenge so we can have a sustainable supply of energy that does not harm future generations or the environment.

During my sophomore year, I took an IAP seminar in which students were asked to propose a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the MIT/Cambridge community. An idea arose of recycling used vegetable oil from campus dining and turning it into biodiesel fuel to run campus vehicles. Over the next few years, Biodiesel@MIT was formed and we entered and won the inaugural GE/MTV-U Ecomagination grant competition. This project encompassed plant construction, working through bureaucracy, gaining various approvals, ensuring safety, and meeting funding requirements. The vision is for MIT not only to produce its own fuel but also to determine better ways to create the fuel and perform quality tests.

Through this experience, I've come to realize that I want to explore sustainable energy technologies more deeply, as well as policy issues, so I'm currently working towards a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering. It's a great combination in that the work is both very interesting as well as extremely timely and important.