WEEK 11 - April 14, 2021


Sustainable Fuel, Food, and Water


Left: Elimelech Research Group Page, Yale University
 Right: National Geographic Society Newsroom, Discovering the Higgs through Physics, Dance and Photography     

Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, Columbia University, 2020
M.Phil. Chemical Engineering, Columbia University, 2019
M.S. Chemical Engineering, Columbia University, 2017
B.S. Chemical Engineering, Yale University, 2015

Download CV             Google Scholar Profile     

Lea joined the Elimelech Research Group in Sep. 2020 to pursue research on the development of sustainable reactive electrochemical membranes for water decontamination. Her research focuses on novel electrochemical methods to reduce nitrate from wastewaters and to convert nitrate to valuable products. Lea is financially supported by the Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT) as a Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow.

Lea received her PhD in Chemical Engineering at Columbia University under Professor Jingguang G. Chen. As an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, she researched the conversion of CO2 and N2 to chemicals and fuels using non-precious metal heterogeneous catalysts and non-thermal plasma activation. Lea obtained her B.S. in Chemical Engineering at Yale. During her undergraduate studies, she researched osmotic back-flushing for biofilm removal on desalination membranes in the Elimelech Research Group. She also completed research fellowships abroad, in combustion of nitrogen-based fuels at the Technion Institute, in plasma modification of polymer surfaces at the École Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Paris, and in immunogenomics at the Weizmann Institute. 

At Columbia, Lea founded SciRISE, a high school internship program for students who recently immigrated to the US to pursue independent research projects. As an undergraduate, she was a co-founder of the Yale Summer Science Research Institute. In addition to STEM education and outreach, Lea enjoys teaching, choreographing, and performing classical and contemporary ballet; training animals; and hiking.

April 21, 2021

Chemists Celebrate Earth Week is Finally Here!!

Theme: Reducing Our Footprint with Chemistry


For years, chemists have been promoting a better world through recyclable plastics, cleaner-burning fuels, phosphate-free detergents, environmental monitoring, and green chemistry initiatives. To promote the positive role that chemistry plays in the world, ACS established the Chemists Celebrate Earth Week (CCEW) public awareness campaign. During CCEW, ACS members and chemistry enthusiasts celebrate by coordinating events and communicating the importance of chemistry. Read more about CCEW.

We'll join in the all-week CCEW 2021 April 18–24 with the theme, “Reducing Our Footprint with Chemistry.
See ACS Kids Zone below for more on this week's demonstrations of sustainable polymer chemistry !

Project SEED Applications Now OPEN!!!

Students can apply for Project SEED's virtual summer 2021 program today (March 22) through April 26 via the APPLY NOW button on the webpage below: 

Project SEED's Virtual Program is a 6-week online experience where you will get to learn more about chemistry-related careers, prepare for the college experience (choosing and applying to college, navigating financial aid and scholarships, and mapping out a strategy to succeed), and the basics of lab research.  While this program does not include hands-on research, the skills that you will acquire will help prepare you for a future research opportunity.  Each week, there will be small-group discussions, independent assignments, and nationally broadcasted webinars on the three objective areas, as well as social activities to help you get to know your colleagues and mentors. Participating students receive a stipend of at least $1,000 for completing the 6-week program and assignments.  

Students will need to submit the following as part of the application:
  1. Parent/Guardian Permission & Income Tax Information. (Your parent will receive an email with a link to provide a digital signature and to upload documents to confirm financial eligibility.)
  2. Unofficial High School Transcript (that you will upload into your application)
  3. Answers to the following 3 essay questions. (The application CAN be saved, so a student can start the application and then return to complete it. I don't see word limits at this time, but I'd suggest each response should be at least 1 paragraph.)
  •    Essay 1: Describe yourself and tell us about your goals after high scho.
  •    Essay 2: Describe any lab experiences you have had in your education thus far, types of lab or activities you have done, and confidence in your lab skills.
  •    Essay 3: Why do you want to participate in Project SEED? Elaborate on how this will affect your education, passion for science, or impact your life.

Questions?  Contact Jeremy Heyman ( with "Project SEED in the Subject Line.  Or the national office at


Sign up for the
Upcoming Event: Virtual ACS Kids Zone - Earth Day 2021

Thursday, April 22, 1–2 PM Eastern US


Participate in Chemists Celebrate Earth Week and Earth Day 2021 by joining chemists across the world for a virtual #ACSKidsZone event, hosted by Sam Jones, science communicator and host of Reactions. Conduct hands-on activities with popular STEM advocates around the educational theme, "Reducing Our Footprint with Macromolecular Chemistry."

Registration is required to attend. Two lucky attendees chosen at random will receive $25 ACS Bucks for use in the ACS Spring Store! Winners must be registered for the ACS Kids Zone and present during the raffle at the event to win. ACS Bucks expire Friday, April 30.

Register for the event here

Share the event with your communities on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook with the hashtag #ACSKidsZone!


Reducing Our Footprint with Macromolecular Chemistry


Our environmental footprint is the impact we have on the Earth, and it includes the energy, food, water, and materials we use or leave behind. To help protect the Earth for future generations to come, we can all take steps to reduce our footprint—and chemistry is a part of the solution! Chemists use their learning of the properties of molecules, the building blocks of chemical compounds, to help understand, solve, and, prevent environmental problems. In this interactive #ACSKidsZone event taking place on Earth Day (April 22), explore environmental solutions with very big molecules!

Download Materials List (PDF)

Download the materials list for all three activities to follow along with the presenters during the live event. Each of the activity write-ups are available below, with supplemental resources to take a deeper dive into the chemistry concepts.


Activity 1: Reduce Your Footprint with Shrinky Dinks

Two plastic pieces in the shape of identical footprints, but one is about double the size of the other
Download Activity 1 (PDF)
Descargar Actividad 1 (PDF)

Presented by: Greglynn Gibbs, Chemistry Research Technologist & Lab Manager, Penn State Berks

Learn about very long chains of molecules called polymers, and explore plastics, a type of polymer that you may have come across. Then, reduce your plastic waste by making your own shrinky dink crafts using leftover polystyrene food packaging, also known as #6 plastic.

Deeper Dive


Activity 2: Cleaning Up Oil Spills with Chemistry

Three medium plastic cups, each 3/4 filled with clear liquid, and a smaller plastic cup with blue liquid and a cotton swab
Download Activity 2 (PDF)
Descargar Actividad 2 (PDF)

Presented by: Dyani Melgarejo, Chemistry Student, San Diego City College

In the event of an environmental disaster like an oil spill, chemistry comes to the rescue. Compare methods for cleaning up oil spills, some using chemistry, some not, then discuss the environmental impacts of your footprint.

Deeper Dive

Activity 3: Choose and Reuse Compostable Plastics

Two plastic cups, one larger and one smaller, filled with clear liquid
Download Activity 3 (PDF)
Descargar Actividad 3 (PDF)

Presented by: T. Greg Tucker, Intellectual Property Technical Specialist, Skysong Innovations, Arizona State University

Fishing bait bags are useful in solving the problem of getting fishing bait to the river bottom where carp and other bottom-dwelling fish live, but typical nylon bait bags are harmful to the environment. Explore the different properties and uses of plastics with a dissolvable alternative to nylon bags and see how chemistry can solve this environmental problem.

Deeper Dive

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