Meet Heidy Cruz, polymer chemist and chemical engineer
1) What do you do?
I develop polymer-based materials tailored for nutrient recovery from domestic wastewater. Climate change, energy issues, limits in resource availability, and end of life of current infrastructures are driving a shift in societal production systems from linear to circular economy. Recovery of nutrients from used water has gained significant interest in the academic world, the water industry, and policy makers.
The goal of my research is to develop new technology for a more sustainable nitrogen recovery process from domestic wastewater– cutting back greenhouse gas emissions and providing a platform for a circular economy in the field of wastewater treatment.
2) Where do you work?
I’m in the 2nd year of my PhD at The University of Queensland in Australia. I work in two centers:
- Center for Solid Waste Bioprocessing, Civil Engineering
- Polymer Translational Research Group, Chemical Engineering
3) Tell us about the photos!
[Top:] At work at our laboratory at the Center for Solid Waste Bioprocessing
[Bottom:] By the lake inside campus– I always come here to relax my mind when research gets tough
4) Tell us about your academic career path so far.
- HS: Statefields School Inc, Philippines (2007)
- BS: University of Santo Tomas, Philippines (2012)
- MS: Kongju University, South Korea (2016)
- PhD: The University of Queensland, Australia (ongoing)
I’ve always wanted to pursue a research degree in another country to test my capabilities and expand my horizon. Luckily, I received a full scholarship from Kongju National University in South Korea where I did my Masters of Science in Advanced Materials Engineering. In July 2016, six months after graduation, I started my PhD. God-willing, I’ll be a doctor before I turn 30!
5) Anything else you’d like to share?
There are only a handful of us in the global arena, or at least here in Australia, but I believe that Filipino scientists are truly talented and globally competitive. I hope more Filipinos will be encouraged to pursue research and contribute the knowledge to the advancement of science and technology in the Philippines.
There is a common perception that scientists are still sitting in ivory towers– but times have changed. It’s a career that needs the same perseverance and collaboration as any other profession. The only difference is that scientists need to maintain a healthy dose of idealism that we can really change the world one data point at a time.