Chemical Engineering PhD student receives Belgian American Educational Foundation fellowship

Ariel Whitten, a chemical engineering PhD candidate, has received a Belgian American Educational Foundation fellowship.

The foundation is the leading independent philanthropic organization supporting the exchange of university students, scientists, and scholars between the United States and Belgium.

Photo of a person with brown hair and sunglasses standing before an orchard
Ariel Whitten

Whitten works with Jean-Sabin McEwen, associate professor in the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, where they are conducting theoretical research on the mechanism of carbon dioxide reactions on perovskites, a type of mineral.

The researchers hope the work will someday lead to new ways to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and the development of a closed carbon cycle to reduce carbon emissions and their harmful impact on Earth’s climate. 

“I believe this technology has a place in the current energy landscape because it not only can use preexisting infrastructure but also can maintain our current lifestyle expectations,” Whitten said in an email. “I am interested in doing this research because perovskites are a low-cost, Earth-abundant material.”

Originally from New Mexico, Whitten first came to WSU for their undergraduate degree. With an interest in the development of renewable fuels, they pursued a degree in chemical engineering and did research on algae for biofuels.

They applied for the fellowship because they are interested in pursuing new skills and look forward to learning about theoretical models of surface chemistry.

“I look forward to gaining new insights into both experimental and theoretical studies,” Whitten said. “I am incredibly grateful for this fellowship from BAEF, and I am especially thankful to my professor, Dr. McEwen, for assisting me in the application process.”

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