Robert Higgins ’13 was chosen from hundreds of applicants for one of only six 2018 NatureNet Science fellowships. The Nature Conservancy program selects promising early-career scientists for two-year fellowships focusing on challenges associated with climate change.
Higgins, who received a doctorate in chemistry from Colorado State University, will research rare earth ions at the University of Pennsylvania with Associate Professor of Chemistry Eric Schelter.
Rare earth elements are used for technologies such as data storage and wind turbines, but current techniques of purification and separation are environmentally damaging. Higgins will investigate new methods to separate rare earths from waste materials and minerals in an environmentally friendly, single-step process using their intrinsic magnetic properties.
At Mary Washington, Higgins received an Irene Piscopo Rodgers ’59 and James D. Rodgers Student Research Fellowship in chemistry. He worked with Associate Professor of Chemistry Janet Asper at the 2012 UMW Summer Science Institute before graduating with an American Chemical Society-certified Bachelor of Science in chemistry.