Faith Kibuye, a student with Benedict College in Columbia, recently took on the task of learning how to remove heavy metals from water using biomass waste such as pinecones and eggshells.


Kibuye presented her findings at the Applied Research Center on Thursday during an event hosted by the Savannah River National Laboratory, or SRNL.


The lab collaborated with the Department of Energy and nine Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs, to bring students to the research center.


Kibuye said the experience was a great one for her and connects to her field of study.


“And I also get to show what I’ve been working on all semester, so it’s very beneficial,” she said.


South Carolina State student Brian Taylor also attended the event. Taylor, and partner Jeanie Russell, took tree water samples from the Savannah River Site to test if tree water sampling was as effective as groundwater sampling.


The work, Russell said, is indicative of the work she hopes to do professionally.


“I plan to major in environmental science in graduate school, so I’m definitely going into that type of field, which would make a lab like SRNL an ideal workplace for me,” she said.


During the event, several SRNL employees circled around to look at the projects.


Lindsay Sexton was one of those employees and said she was impressed by the work.


“It’s good to see what kind of work they’ve been doing, and it’s been very impressive,” Sexton said. “They’ve got their analytical methods worked out, they’ve thought through their experiments, and they’ve been very professional.”


SRNL Director Terry Michalske was also touring the different projects.


He said the effort to bring students in is realistic, because the workforce at SRNL is always changing.


“We are more and more interested in building our relationships with our regional HBCUs because we have a workforce that is aging, and we’ll be replacing retirees,” he said. “So, we see this as a positive way to ensure the highest quality of workers to be leaders in our laboratory.”


Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @ DerrekAsberry.