Published: Aug. 30, 2021 By

Dami Akinneye in blue suit and purple tie
Damilola Akinneye

Damilola Akinneye, a PhD candidate in the Medlin Research Group, recently received the Andzik Scholarship, an award that goes to first-generation students or those who have faced unusual adversity, with a preference for those who graduated from a high school in Africa. Akinneye is originally from Nigeria.

“This award will be very beneficial as it will take away the burden of finding an extra source of income to support my living expenses,” Akinneye said. “I will be able to focus and pay more attention to my classes and research.”

As a PhD candidate, Akinneye is primarily interested in renewable energy research and applications, with a focus on the creation of fuel from waste products that would otherwise be hazardous to the environment.

“My current project aims to produce fuels from the catalytic processing of plastic waste, specifically polyethylene terephthalate—or PET—waste,” Akinneye said.

Akinneye’s interest in renewable energy began in high school.

“This was after I realized that despite the significant contributions of chemistry to our world today, it is responsible for many dangerous emissions that contribute to climate change,” he said. “I'm motivated by a desire to see advancements in chemistry and engineering that would be instrumental in creating a more sustainable future. Rather than be the source of pollution, I envision technological advances that will help to reduce environmental pollution and protect the planet.”

That vision led him to CU Boulder.

“I chose CU Boulder because of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering’s exceptional faculty, who are committed to sustainable chemical processes,” he said. “CU Boulder is located in Colorado, one of the most sustainability-driven states in the U.S.”

Akinneye offered his thanks to several people for the scholarship.

“First, I would like to thank Dominique de Vangel for telling me about the opportunity,” he said. “I also want to express my sincere gratitude to the Andzik donors for the laudable gesture of providing scholarships to exceptional students. I do not take this opportunity for granted in any way, and I promise to continue to give my best and excel in my academic pursuits.”

He went on to thank his advisor Professor Will Medlin, as well as Assistant Professor Ankur Gupta and Professor Timothy White for providing mentorship and support during his first semester of graduate school.

“Lastly, I would like to thank my parents and friends for their constant love and support,” he said.

Akinneye says that this scholarship will serve as a reminder of how hard work pays off.

“I hope that my success stories will also inspire several other Nigerians and Africans worldwide to continue to aim for success in their different fields,” he said.

Regarding the Andzik Scholarship:

The Donors have a true passion for supporting the education system in less-developed countries and have traveled there in the past to help fundraise for a non-profit organization. Much of their attention has been focused on Ethiopia and Kenya where they have seen true need. It is their hope to encourage and provide assistance to students who would not be able to attend college without financial aid.