Anyone who is around Junyi Du ("Du") for very long knows that it is not very hard to get Du to laugh. He will laugh at almost anything, from the silly things that people do to difficult research problems that seem so out of reach. Why not laugh about it? He will eventually solve them anyway! Du's research, under Dr. Elizabeth Butler, is to investigate the efficacy of aluminum-based fluoride adsorption materials, especially as amended with coatings of metal oxides and oxyhydroxides. The ultimate goal is to amend natural media to use in fluoride removal and the production of safe drinking water.
|Du spends a lot of time in his laboratory, testing the adsorptive properties of various media for arsenic removal.|
Du's identity as an environmental engineer is one that has been evolving. He says: "Although I chose the major of environmental engineering when I entered college, I knew almost nothing about the major. With the studies in college, I found it was an interesting and promising major and decided to stay rather than changing my major. In China, the career prospect for environmental engineering students seemed pretty bright because of the rapid development of economy and the exponentially deteriorating environment, although it turned out not so good afterwards. On the other hand, I could learn the knowledge covering a series of majors in environmental engineering, such as principles of electricity, ecology, microbiology, chemical engineering, and even economics. It is very good for me to engage in and take advantage of the multidisciplinary study. Since then, my sophomore year of undergraduate, I began to gear up on the track of being an environmental engineer. Later, I continued my master’s study in the same major, and deepened the understanding of environmental work."
Part of what kept him going in the field is the realization that he could make a difference in the world: "I realized I could do more than only designing, mapping and researching as an environmental engineer. I could and have to expose myself to a bigger stage since it is really a challenging work to solve the environmental issues in real world."
Du earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in Environmental Engineering from Nanchang University in China. While there, he conducted research on fluoride distribution and migration in carbonate bedrock and fluoride adsorption mechanisms of clay minerals. For enjoyment, Du likes reading history books and poems, cooking, and singing. To improve fitness, he also plays basketball and does some running and hiking.
And Du will always be learning. In his words, "I will keep going and stay thirsty of learning." We hope that that thirst will never fully be quenched.