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Dr. Debora Rodriques Spotlighting a UH Woman Each Month

What is your position and title at UH?
I am an assistant professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Dept.

How long have you worked here?
I started in Aug. 2010 (so it has been 3 years)

What are your job responsibilities and duties?
My job duties are teaching, doing research, mentor and advise students (high schools, undergraduates and graduate students), also serve the University whenever they need me (in committees).

What courses do you teach?
I teach:
CIVE 4331 – Water Quality
CIVE 6391 – Environmental Engineering Microbiology
CIVE 7397 – Advanced Environmental Engineering Microbiology

What is your teaching philosophy?
As an educator, my goal is to develop multiple aspects of each student’s cognitive abilities. I strive to familiarize them with the application of scientific inquiry, improve their critical thinking skills and refine their communication abilities.  Consequently, students will be better equipped for success in life, regardless of their chosen career path, and can collectively contribute to an increasingly innovative and responsible society. From my experience as both teacher and student, these educational goals are best accomplished with a careful balance of diverse teaching methods designed to excite students’ curiosity, help them quickly master difficult concepts and empower them to answer their own questions through scientific inquiry. Therefore, I try to incorporate different teaching tools and presentation styles to accommodate different students with different backgrounds, ability levels and learning styles.

What are your research interests?
My research interests involve investigation of the toxicological effects of carbon-based nanomaterials and polymer nanocomposites to wastewater microbial communities and their potential applications for water treatment and corrosion prevention. I am also using biotechnology for alternative energy production with simultaneous water treatment.

What do you enjoy about your work?
My greatest satisfaction comes from awakening students’ innate curiosity and generate excitement about the world around and within them, and then enabling them to answer their own questions using that curiosity as a driving force.

Why are more women not going into engineering?
The major reason is because of the societal stereotypes created for women. Engineering is considered to be mainly a male profession and women tend to be pushed towards science. Also the lack of strong role of models to encourage female students to pursue engineering.

What do you like about your choice of discipline?
Biotechnology and nanotechnology are major core disciplines that interfaces engineering with science. These disciplines have recently attracted worldwide attention of researchers as powerful tools to solve environmental problems. Furthermore, these fields are so vast and unexplored that they give me infinite possibilities to solve environmental problems and help making our planet a better place for future generations.

What advice or encouragement would you give UH staff and students?
If you put your heart on what you do, but most importantly do it with passion, you will get wherever and whoever you want. The sky is the limit!

What is something about you that many co-workers and students do not know about you?
My life is an open book… I love to talk to students and co-workers and share my experiences and personal life as well as get to know them in a personal level.