Mr. Jeremy Koelmel
Specialization: Chemistry
Home institution in US: Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts
Host Institution in India: University of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh  
Start date/Month in India: August 2012
Duration of grant: 9 months

Brief Bio:
Mr. Jeremy Koelmel’s first exposure to rigorous scientific research was as a high school senior when he independently determined novel lichen species as indicators of vehicle pollution in his home county, Queens, New York, and received the 2007 Young Naturalist Award from the American Museum of Natural History, New York. He focused on environmental chemistry as a Hampshire College, Massachusetts undergraduate. In summer 2010 Jeremy received a National Science Foundation REU grant culminating in a paper (unpublished) on diurnal isoprene nitrate chemistry in polluted and unpolluted air parcels. The following year he completed a senior thesis modeling metal uptake and imaging metal distributions in ferns growing on shooting range soils in Chesterfield, Massachusetts under Prof. Dulasiri Amarasiriwardena and Prof. Lawrence Winship, and the results were published in Environment and Pollution. In summer 2011 he continued research with Prof. Amarasiriwardena, researching gold nanoparticle uptake by rice plants (manuscript in preparation) and synthesizing iron nanoparticles for absorption of trace metals.

Mr. Koelmel’s other interests include animation and graphic design, vipassana meditation, and teaching improvisational dance and natural science. Over the past four years he has practiced, performed and taught improvisational dance with Griff Goehring and colleagues through a grant from the Barbara Mettler Trust. To date he has taught in five schools from pre-K to high school, and most extensively at Austine School for the Deaf. He has also designed his own curriculum and taught ecology, chemistry and naturalist studies to children as a camp director for Dandelions Summer Camp in New Hampshire (2009) and as a science teacher for Eden Village Summer Camp (2011). Other jobs include work as a farm apprentice, personal support worker for a child with autism and interim lab technician at Hampshire College.

Mr. Koelmel’s Fulbright research project, “Determining indigenous rhizobacteria in chromium contaminated sites to aid remediation,” will work with M. N. V. Prasad, an expert on bioremediation, to focus on identifying and characterizing plants and their respective rhizobacteria for the remediation of chromium contaminated sites from the tanning industry in Tamil Nadu. Poverty, concentrated population and widespread contamination of metal pollutants make low cost unique remediation technologies, such as the use of novel plants for remediation (phytoremediation), necessary in India. Organisms that have evolved to survive on these highly contaminated sites could not only be applied in Tamul Nadu, but also globally.