Chemical Engineering Student Garners National Recognition

By Sydney Souder


Chemical Engineering junior Ari Fischer has been named a 2014 Udall Scholar. Fischer is UConn’s fifth Udall Scholar and the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular engineering’s second recipient of the competitive scholarship in four years.

The Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation is one of five federal foundations established by Congress. Since 1996, the program has awarded almost $7 million in scholarships to students dedicated to conserving the environment. “It’s different compared to other scholarships because everyone unites over one passion, even if they come from different backgrounds,” says Fischer.

Of 489 eligible applicants from 47 states and Puerto Rico, the Foundation chose 50 scholars and 50 honorable mentions. This summer, the 2014 Scholars will assemble and meet in Tuscan for an educative leadership orientation.

This scholarship is one in a long run of honors Fischer has accumulated in his three years at UConn. He is the recipient of the John & Carla Augustyn Scholarship, the Connecticut Space Grant Consortium Undergraduate Research Fellowship, the UConn IDEA Grant, an Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) Travel Grant, and the UConn Academic Excellence Scholarship. Although academics and research have traditionally been Fischer’s strengths, this latest tribute recognizes his service and leadership in a compelling discipline.

Fischer has been empowered by Chemical Engineering since his freshman year at UConn. Despite his love for the field, he acknowledges that Chemical Engineering contributes to many of the problems facing the planet, and he has made it his mission to reverse these effects.

“This is probably the first time I’ve considered myself an environmentalist,” says Fischer, “I’ve been passionate about nature and the environment for a long time, but I didn’t feel a part of the environmentalist community until I came to UConn.”

Fischer has already initiated his own projects committed to the environment. Using his IDEA Grant, Fischer has addressed the oil drilling and waste problems facing the planet by recycling spent coffee grounds into a means for fuels, chemicals and commodities production. Through another recent accolade, a CT Space Grant Consortium award, he is designing an oxygen generator used in carbon dioxide removal. “The frontiers of research offer an exciting new age in energy production,” said Fischer in his application, “and I am committed to designing revolutionary technologies that harness materials and processes in novel ways which enable today’s theories to be implemented on an industrial scale.”

Fischer believes he especially strengthened his environmental outlook last spring as an exchange student in South Korea. He says he will never forget hiking at Bukhansan National Park where he glimpsed the compatibility of the modern city with mountain serenity. It was during this moment of harmony with nature that Fischer was inspired to conserve as much as he could.

Fischer has one year left at UConn, but ultimately plans to earn a PhD in Chemical Engineering. Currently excited by green startups, Fischer hopes to lend his abilities to engineer clean energy alternatives in the future.