The DuPont Young Professor program is designed to help promising young and untenured research faculty working in areas of interest to DuPont, begin their research careers. The program has provided nearly $50 million in grants to more than 680 young professors in more than 130 institutions in 14 countries since 1968.
“I’m very honored that DuPont has selected me for this recognition and excited they have taken an interest in our research,” Mahendra said. “Our lab has developed some very promising tools for monitoring and remediation of emerging environmental contaminants, and this award will help support further study in this area.”
Mahendra’s research interests are in microbial interactions with chemical contaminants and nanoparticles. Specifically, her work aims at developing fundamental knowledge of bacterial and fungal detoxification or degradation of organic contaminants, such as 1,4-dioxane, chlorinated solvents, and fluorinated compounds. This research has broad applications in reducing environmental hazards by developing technologies for the cost-effective detection, characterization, containment, and remediation of contaminants on site without the need for removing contaminated soil or pumping groundwater.
Earlier this year, Mahendra received the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER). Since starting at UCLA Engineering, Mahendra has received large grants from NSF, the U.S. Air Force Civil Engineer Center, and from the Department of Defense Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program, all on looking at environmentally friendly ways to clean up toxic chemicals.