Mona Mohammed, Class of '15, knows how to turn food waste into a valuable resource.

Her first semester at Bucknell, Mohammed took Engineering 100, a course that gives students an overview of engineering practices and disciplines. As part of the course, she joined a three-week seminar called Trash to Cash, taught by Matthew Higgins, professor of civil engineering.

"Professor Higgins taught us about his research feeding food waste to microbes that turn the waste into energy, heat and nutrient-filled compost," says Mohammed, who also learned the basics of converting waste to methane gas. During winter break, the Yemen native stayed on campus and joined Professor Higgins in the lab, helping him with his research through the next semester.

Professor Higgins includes students like Mona in his work to inspire them to do more to preserve natural resources. "This project is important for helping us move toward a more sustainable approach for doing things," he says. "We hope that young engineers like Mona will to be socially conscious in their work."

Indeed, Mohammed has continued to focus on natural resources, turning her attention this summer to water. She went home to Sana'a, Yemen, as an intern with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, a German federal program that promotes sustainable development through international cooperation.

"The goal of my internship was to learn about the water situation in Yemen, the difficulties it faces and what has been and is being done to help improve the situation," says Mohammed, who plans to attend graduate school to study water management. Eventually, she hopes to use her engineering background to inspire women in Yemen create innovative ideas.

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