Hinako Kawabe, 2019, Chemical and Biological Engineering

I worked in the lab of John Higgins in conjunction with the Trenton-based nonprofit organization Isles, Inc. to test houses in Trenton for lead contamination. Lead can have multiple sources, such as lead-based paint that can erode into miniscule particles. Lead ingestion is harmful, especially for children under the age of six. Isles conducts free home lead testing for people who sign up and I assisted Isles in this testing. I used an X-ray fluorescence gun to test the dust, soil and paint in people’s homes, as well as the soil in Trenton’s community gardens. In addition, I worked in the Higgins Lab on water analysis, learning how to prepare and run water samples on the inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS), which measures the amount of lead in water. All the data were summarized and sent back to Isles. Being able to provide a safer environment for the residents of Trenton was a wonderful experience. Working with a nonprofit organization showed me an impactful application of science and inspired me to look into these organizations for a future career.

* This internship is connected to the PEI Urban Grand Challenges project, “Urban Tap Water and Human Health.”