2020 Fulbright Scholarship for Environmental Engineering

student testing soil in field and hiking in jungle

Madeline DuBois, BS Environmental Engineering, was awarded a 2020 Fulbright scholarship to continue study at the University of Copenhagen in Copenhagen, Denmark. Established following the end of the Second World War, the Fulbright Program is a prestigious and highly competitive US government scholarship program aimed at fostering academic excellence and international cooperation. The scholarship will enable DuBois to study agriculture with a specialization in production and the environment.

A native of Poolville, New York, DuBois came to Northeastern University to study environmental engineering because she wanted to address some of society’s most pressing challenges. From global warming to pollution and clean water access, environmental engineers can make a profound impact on society. “I wanted to be part of the movement to address and try to solve some of those issues,” said DuBois.

Through Northeastern’s co-op program, DuBois has already worked on many of the issues facing today’s civil and environmental engineering professionals around the world. Her first co-op for Environmental Partners saw her working on a drinking water distribution system for the town of Eastham, Massachusetts. A second co-op brought her to Panama, investigating the evolutionary adaptations of lizards to climate change with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Her final co-op with the Land Institute of Kansas helped her identify her current research interests. While there, she assisted with sustainable agriculture research, and had the opportunity to take on her own independent project investigating water use by deep rooting crops. The work felt very important, DuBois explained: “the current model of large-scale monoculture farming has huge environmental impacts, so developing and transitioning to a more sustainable system is imperative.”

In addition to co-op, DuBois is a member of Northeastern’s award-winning Engineers Without Borders chapter, has worked as a research assistant on Teaching Professor Annalisa Onnis-Hayden’s tidal flow constructed wetland project, and helped found Northeastern’s annual Research: Art or Science? Exhibition, which features photographs of student research on campus.

The country of Denmark has set ambitious environmental goals for the agricultural sector, so the graduate program she has chosen will put her on the front-lines of this progressive research. DuBois will work on their Deep Frontier research project, investigating water and nutrient use by deep rooting perennial crops.  “The University of Copenhagen has the premier facility for studying deep rooting crops, including transparent towers that are several meters tall and used to observe and monitor the root systems,” said DuBois.

After she completes her studies, DuBois would like to continue working in the field of sustainable agriculture on the development of a perennial polyculture model. “Perennial crops regrow for many years without needing to be replanted, and polyculture farming is the practice of planting multiple species together in the same field to increase the ecosystem services,” she said. “I am specifically interested in better understanding and optimizing water use in agriculture by harnessing the ability of deep rooting perennial crops to utilize natural water sources.”

Related Faculty: Annalisa Onnis-Hayden

Related Departments:Civil & Environmental Engineering