| AWWA Member Spotlight – Cindy Weng, Stanford University
AWWA Articles

AWWA Member Spotlight – Cindy Weng, Stanford University

Note: Cindy Weng is the first recipient of AWWA’s newly-established Dr. Philip C. Singer Endowed Scholarship. The award honors the international legacy of Singer, a renowned water quality researcher, educator, author and mentor, who was Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Cindy WengOccupation: Doctoral candidate, environmental engineering, specializing in environmental chemistry and water treatment, Stanford University; graduate researcher in Prof. William Mitch’s group focused on developing sustainable water treatment technologies for potable reuse.  

Education: B.S., Civil Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University; M.S./Ph.D. candidate, Environmental Engineering, Stanford University

Other awards: Gates Millennium Scholar, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; H.A. Thomas Sr. Distinguished Service Award, Carnegie Mellon; Stanford Justice Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Graduate Award

What motivated you to pursue research and a career in water? I chose to study civil engineering because of the inherent community-centered and interdisciplinary nature of the field. While in high school, I volunteered in Paraguay for three months with a nonprofit modeled after the Peace Corps. There, I experienced firsthand how the lack of necessities such as running water and electricity directly impacts women’s education and gender inequality. In low-income countries, women and girls are responsible for collecting often contaminated water, simultaneously causing illness and restricting access to education. This experience catalyzed my desire to study engineering to develop low-cost methods for improving access to clean water.

Career plans: As a first-generation graduate student, I am dedicated to closing the college completion gap for underrepresented college students. Ultimately, I hope to develop novel water treatment technologies and mentor aspiring scholars, particularly those from underrepresented groups. The guiding principle of my career is to address inequities related to welfare, health and education.

Research experience: For three years at Carnegie Mellon’s Institute for Green Science, I contributed to research led by Prof. Terrence Collins on peroxidase-mimicking oxidation catalysts, NewTAMLS, that target toxic and persistence micropollutants. In the summer of 2017, I conducted research in Prof. Lisa Alvarez-Cohen’s group at the University of California, Berkeley, where I used the organohalide-respiring bacteria, Dehalococcoides mccartyi, for the environmental bioremediation of trichloroethylene. After my summer at Berkeley I completed my senior honors research with Prof. Gregory Lowry, focusing on sulfide-modified nanoscale zerovalent iron suitability for wastewater and groundwater remediation. 

Cindy with lab matesWhat interests do you have outside of work and school? I am always picking up new hobbies! I enjoy indoor bouldering, badminton, volunteering at College Track, spending time outdoors, and reading. The most recent hobbies I’ve picked up are ice skating and glass etching. I also enjoy spending time with my lab mates (pictured left) and my two wonderful house mates.

Tell us more about your family: My parents, siblings and I are the only family I have in the U.S. We are fortunate to live within driving distance of each other and try to spend time together when we are all free. We grew up in our family’s restaurant, so many of our family moments incorporate lots of delicious food.

What would surprise people about you? English was not my first language – though it has become the language with which I am most comfortable and fluent. Mandarin was my first language, and I picked up Spanish in middle school.