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Environmental Engineering Student Receives Karecki Award

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Environmental Engineering Student Receives Karecki Award

March 28, 2014
Lila Otero-Gonzalez says more than anything else she appreciates the attention the award brings to environmental research at UA.

Lila Otero-Gonzalez, a University of Arizona doctoral candidate in environmental engineering, has received the 2014 Simon Karecki Award for her outstanding environmental research contributions and academic accomplishments.

“Lila has demonstrated great leadership ability in research and a remarkable ability to communicate and collaborate with scientists from other disciplines, a gift that I attribute to her intense scientific curiosity, intelligence and open minded personality,” said UA professor of chemical and environmental engineering Sierra Reyes, who is Otero-Gonzalez’s adviser.

Otero-Gonzalez has a 4.0 grade point average and is scheduled to complete her PhD in December. Her research focuses on environmental safety and health impacts of emerging nanoparticles and byproducts from semiconductor manufacturing.

“Most importantly,” said Otero-Gonzalez on receiving the award, “I am happy about the recognition and support it means to environmental research.”

The Karecki fellowship fund is administered by the SRC Education Alliance, a subsidiary of the Semiconductor Research Corp., the chip industry's research consortium, and the SRC Engineering Research Center for Environmentally Benign Semiconductor Manufacturing, for which UA is the lead university.

Anna and Richard Karecki, along with family, friends and colleagues, created the Simon Karecki Fellowship Fund in 2001 to honor the memory of their son, who was an SRC Graduate Fellow, and to encourage other students in environmental engineering. The Kareckis have attended the center’s annual review meeting for the last 13 years and personally presented the award. Anna Karecki presented the award, which included a $1,500 cash prize, to Otero-Gonzalez on March 26, 2014 at the University of Arizona.

For 18 years, the center’s interdisciplinary research, which involves more than a dozen universities, has been leading the way to safer, more efficient, more cost-effective semiconductor manufacturing. Students like Otero-Gonzalez are essential to those efforts.

“Students are the primary reason we are here, and recognizing their accomplishments is important,” said Farhang Shadman, UA Regents’ Professor in chemical and environmental engineering and the center’s founding director. “Otero-Gonzalez has the passion to make a difference.”

Otero-Gonzalez -- who speaks three languages: Spanish, English and Galician -- earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain and her MS in environmental engineering at the UA in 2012. She has had five papers published in professional journals and has received a number of awards and scholarships.

Top picture: Lila Otero-Gonzalez, environmental engineering PhD student, receives the 2014 Simon Karecki Award from Anna Karecki. (Jonathan Santos/UA Engineering)