A former Bren grad student's innovative design inspired a piece of oil-spill recovery equipment by Elastec/American Marine that has earned a $1 million top prize.
Victoria Broje, working in a research group led by Bren Professor Arturo Keller, redesigned a standard drum oil skimmer at UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management in 2006 for her Ph.D. dissertation.
The design was patented, and shortly before Broje received her Ph.D., UCSB officials completed a deal to license the patent for the technology to Elastec/American Marine, the nation's largest maker of oil-spill recovery equipment.
Elastec/American utilized her design to create a piece of equipment that was entered into the 2011 Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE competition, earning the top prize.
"I'm happy that my Ph.D. research resulted in a fundamental change in approach, which significantly improved oil-spill recovery efficiency and allows many people to benefit from it," Broje said in a UCSB Office of Public Affairs press release.
Michael Witherell, UCSB's vice chancellor for research, praised the Russian-born physicist turned oil-spill recovery expert. "When you give a very bright and innovative graduate student like Victoria Broje an important problem to work on, new technology is often the result," he said in the release. "It is a great story of success."
To read more about this graduate student success story, read the UCSB press release.