Graduate Student Spotlight: Samrin Kusum

Samrin Kusum is a sixth year Ph.D. candidate majoring in Environmental Engineering. She grew up in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and is advised by Drs. Moe Pour-Ghaz and Joel Ducoste. Last year, she won CCEE’s Three Minute Thesis competition by expertly describing her research that explores solutions to sewer line blockages.

 

What influenced you to go into engineering?

Samrin Kusum: Being a daughter of a contractor, I visited many construction sites from an early stage
and saw the construction of megastructures like dams, bridges, buildings, roads, etc. I liked math and physics, which I knew could help me be an engineer, but choosing engineering as a career is not common for girls in my country. With strong support from my family and my childhood fascination with how things get built, I pursued civil engineering.

 

What problem(s) are you trying to solve? Why were NC State and CCEE a good fit for you?

SK: My research aims to reduce the formation of Fat, Oil, and Grease (FOG) deposits inside sanitary sewer lines. These FOG deposits lead to sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) which are both costly and present health risks to the public. Along with my advisors, I developed a new sewer line construction material that incorporates Fly Ash (FA) as a binder material. Replacing cement with FA can significantly reduce FOG deposit formation and thereby reduce SSOs. I am also studying the use of other low-calcium aggregates to potentially decrease the ability of FOG deposits to adhere to the inside of sewer lines.

NC State’s civil engineering department caught my attention because of its wide range of research in environmental engineering, and the large number of faculty members encourages cross-disciplinary research activities.

 

Where did your passion for this particular focus come from?

SK: I first thought civil engineering was all about construction and designing mega infrastructure. I found that environmental engineering is one of the integrated parts of civil engineering due to its array of applications, which ensure sustainable use of water, land and air resources. I chose to major in environmental engineering so that I can play an important role in environmental protection.

 

Where do you see yourself in five years?

SK: I plan to pursue a career in academia to continue my research work and educate the next generation. I will continue my research on sustainability of sewer collection systems and the development of sustainable alternative construction materials. I also want to get involved in different outreach programs so I can give back to the community.