Getting PCBs Out of Schools Explained (in 3 Minutes)

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ISRP trainee Moala Keshei wins the 2020 University of Iowa Graduate College's Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. The 3MT competition challenges graduate students to clearly and concisely articulate complex research to non-specialist audiences.

Moala is a PhD candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering, studying room-to-room variation and remediation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

As a first-generation Cameroonian immigrant raised in urban New Jersey, Moala identifies first hand with the issues in minority-predominant low-income school districts and is determined to bridge the gap in environmental justice experienced by those of low socioeconomic status. The goal of her research is to make PCB remediation cheaper and thus more accessible to minority-predominant, low-income public schools. This is done by studying the PCB concentrations of specific materials in the classroom and then identifying which ones contribute the most PCBs. These are then removed from the classroom. School rooms can be preserved without the need to demolish the entire school.