Chinyere Mbachu Awarded Prestigious Schlumberger Foundation Fellowship

Posted by Karen Lykins - Tuesday, November 19 2013
Office of Communications & Marketing

It's been a long time coming, but four years' worth of hard work has paid off for Chinyere Mbachu, a Ph.D. chemical engineering student at Tennessee Technological University. Mbachu is the recipient of the Schlumberger Foundation Faculty for the Future Fellowship of up to $50,000 grant, on the basis of her work with modeling of a reactor under laminar regime for the production of biodiesel.

The research is important because it will help in designing a reactor that will produce more efficient fuels, which in turn can save energy costs and lives, in countries such as Nigeria. Mbachu is looking for alternative renewable resources that require inexpensive method of production in order to substitute for the current oil demand without using food crops, like corn and sugar cane, and produce a low cost biodiesel with little emission to the environment.

The Schlumberger Foundation Faculty for the Future program selects outstanding women from developing countries to aid in their pursuit of graduate studies in engineering, science and technology disciplines worldwide. In 2013, the program selected 67 new fellows from several applications worldwide. In the United States, other recipients of the award are attending schools like Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Yale University, Caltech, Stanford, Georgia Tech, Cornell University and The Ohio State University.

"The application process for this award was high level; however, I am honored and very excited to receive the Schlumberger Foundation Fellowship," said Mbachu. "This fellowship will help me to focus, finalize my research, and be a role model for the next generation of women engineers by helping in capacity building initiative, leadership, and innovation in research and engineering in developing countries like Nigeria."

Mbachu is working extensively on her doctoral-level research to develop a relatively simple transport model (under laminar regime) with kinetics study on the convective-diffusion process taking place inside the reactors. Her home country, Nigeria, is a major producer of crude oil in the world, and poor environmental controls result in contamination of drinking water and land degradation, with their accompanying health problems spread through the population.

"The Schlumberger Foundation Faculty for the Future award to Chinyere Mbachu is in recognition of her academic and leadership record. It is also recognition of the quality of students we recruit and the quality of education that Tennessee Tech. University offers. We congratulate her on the award," said Francis O. Otuonye, TTU's associate vice president of research.

Pedro E. Arce, chairperson of TTU's Chemical Engineering Department, praises the level of Mbachu's accomplishments.

"This very prestigious international fellowship to Ms. Mbachu is the first of this kind at TTU, and it is a great recognition to Chinyere for her very dedicated efforts in our graduate program and her numerous accomplishments during her time with us," Arce said. "I have worked with Ms. Mbachu for a numbers of years now, and it has been always a great pleasure to advise her. With this wonderful support, she now can concentrate on finalizing an excellent thesis work for her chosen topic."

Mbachu's path started when she received her bachelor's of technology degree in Food Science and Technology from Federal University of Technology in Owerri, Nigeria. She went on to earn her master's degree in Chemical Engineering from Tennessee Tech. During her time at Tennessee Tech, Mbachu has been the recipient of several scholarships, fellowships, and awards, including the National Society of Black Engineers' Golden Torch Award, as graduate student of the year. She has served as the Secretary (2010-2011) and President (2011-2013) of Chemical Engineering Graduate Research Association at Tennessee Tech, and worked during the summer as a chemical engineer/coating technology intern at Alcoa, Inc. In 2011, Mbachu was awarded a fellowship to take part in the Singularity University Graduate Studies Summer Program on Exponential Technologies, Leadership and Entrepreneurship at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field in Mountain View, Calif.

The Schlumberger Foundation is a nonprofit entity that supports science and technology education. Recognizing the link between science, technology, and socio-economic development, as well as the key role of education in realizing individual potential, the Schlumberger Foundation flagship program is Faculty for the Future.

The Faculty for the Future program was launched to award fellowships to women from developing economies. The program supports talented women scientists by helping them pursue advanced graduate studies in scientific disciplines—paving the way for future generations of women scientists and developing role models for each new generation. The program has become a powerful community, and since its inception by the Schlumberger Foundation in 2004, the program has awarded grants to 323 women from 63 countries.