Dennis Ssekimpi

Coffee and Conversation with Dennis Ssekimpi and Honorine Rouiller | English | Digital Narratives | November 16, 2021

hy FSU?

FSU is a major research institution. The FAMU-FSU College of Engineering is unique because it’s a joint college with two universities. This setup offers opportunities to connect with more researchers, professors, and students. The campus is also very supportive to the international student community, with a large and active group under the Center for Global Engagement.

Motivation to pursue a graduate degree

Graduate school offers a platform for personal growth through experiences in the form of challenges and opportunities and provides professional connections you establish over the course of your graduate work. Something key for me is the additional specialized skills I am gaining in environmental engineering. The environment is faced with extremely complex challenges due to rapid changes from urbanization to industrialization that have significant consequences. Tackling these challenges requires advanced skills and understanding of the field, and this knowledge is what I look to get out of graduate school.

Importance and impact of research

The Environmental Protection Agency has designated a number of sites in the country contaminated with hazardous substances from past industrial activities. These are called Superfund sites and are deemed a priority for cleanup since they pose a threat to both humans and the environment. I am working with Dr. Youneng Tang, and the goal of the research is to use bacteria to develop tools for cleaning these sites, in particular the groundwater. Our focus is biological treatment simply because it’s a cost-efficient and environmentally sustainable approach to removing pollutants from our environment. The work aims to make biological treatment much better than existing technology.

Advice for prospective graduate students

One key thing is patience, being patient with yourself to learn and adapt to some of the things you are being exposed to. Many times we get overwhelmed by trying to master it all at once, but it takes time to become proficient at conducting research in graduate school. Building a network before and during grad school makes it much easier to make the most of the graduate school journey. Without a network, we are limited in terms of resources, information, and opportunities that we can access. This network can also become a support system given the challenges we face at times during the graduate school journey.

Career aspirations

I am looking at an intersection of research and entrepreneurship to use my skills to build solutions that have the potential to solve some of the pressing needs of the environment, in particular those that affect water. My research provides a good opportunity to pick up these skills for the career goals that I have beyond the master’s. Entrepreneurship is the fastest way to disrupt the status quo while giving value to the community. I believe if it is integrated with research, the products made can tackle problems we face today while generating significant economic and social impact.

GradImpact Profile