Water is the essence of life. It helps us grow and sustain ourselves through change, and it keeps the planet running. Few people make it their entire lives, but Rachel Rossi of Durango, Colorado wants to help create sustainable approaches to water remediation in order to prevent environmental degradation. With six years of experience under her belt already, Rachel is sure to change the way we interact with water. Learn more about her in this Q&A.   Tell us a little about your background.
I have had the privilege to grow up in two very diverse environments: the beach and the mountains. From an early age, I was able to experience the beauty of the outdoors, kayaking and surfing in the ocean and backpacking, skiing, rock-climbing, and biking through the mountains. I am passionate about research and academic pursuits, but am equally passionate about spending time outdoors.
The outdoors clearly means a lot to you. When did you first develop an interest in water and water remediation?
Spending so much of my time outdoors, I grew to appreciate the regenerative potential of nature, just as I understood the destructive behaviors of mankind. I learned to be careful choosing drinking water sources while backpacking, as many back country rivers, which were once a safe source of drinking water, are contaminated.
What other environmental processes are you interested in and passionate about?
My primary interest in chemical engineering, and how to shift the current paradigm from one which degrades the environment to one which supports the environment.
What else can be done in Durango and the rest of Colorado to help treat water more efficiently?
Simply disposing of household water contaminants, such as pharmaceutical drugs and motor oil, in a proper method can make a significant impact on the quality of our water.
What are some discoveries you have made recently regarding your work?
Most recently, I have been researching remediation of fracking chemicals, which are used to acquire natural gas. Fracking chemicals are especially problematic to human and environmental health as water contaminants.
What made you choose Stanford for next year? What do you plan to do there?
Stanford combines academic rigor, research opportunities, and fertile ground for innovative ideas. I am not looking to simply gain an education, but to equip myself to find innovative solutions to challenges our society faces and to work collaboratively with others who seek to use their intellect to improve the life experience of everyone in our world.
Why is water remediation important?
Water is the foundation of all life. Each water source is connected through the water cycle. If we continue to pollute our water, ultimately, we will not be able to sustain life.
What is something few people know about you?
I can use a Mass Spectrometer and prepare chemical derivatives, but the only things I can cook are kale and omelets.