Fellow Story

Habtemichael celebrated for excellence in DEI and PFAS work

Asta Habtemichael has received multiple awards and fellowships in the past year in recognition of his outstanding academic performance and leadership as a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion champion. 

From the University of Rhode Island: 

Asta receives the Donald Cunnigen Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies at URI.jpg
Asta Habtemichael receives the Donald Cunnigen award for Excellence in Graduate Studies. Photo courtesy of Asta Habtemichael.
  • The Donald Cunnigen Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies, presented at URI’s 26th Annual Black Scholar Awards. The Cunnigen Award is presented to a graduate student in recognition of outstanding academic performance, active scholarly research, leadership and service.  Learn more about Asta talented scholarship and leadership in this URI story about the award
  • The URI Graduate School 2023 Outstanding Champion of Graduate Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award, due to his outstanding commitment, dedication and accomplishments as an effective DEI champion.
  • A 2023-2024 URI Graduate School Dean’s Fellowship. This competitive award is given to current URI graduate students in recognition of achievement and promise as scholars, and is intended to provide funding to graduate students so they can focus on their research. 

Habtemichael was also awarded the K.C. Donnelly Externship Award by the Superfund Research Program, which provides current SRP-funded graduate students and postdoctoral researchers with translational/transdisciplinary opportunities and experiences within other SRP-funded centers, government laboratories , or other agencies.  Through the externship, he will travel to the University of Pittsburgh and  learn advanced molecular modeling techniques to understand how differences in PFAS chemical structure may affect their binding to biological molecules, and therefore influencing their ability to bioaccumulate or biomagnify in aquatic food webs.

PFAS can move up the food chain, contaminating indigenous and local communities’ food sources. This externship will equip me with new techniques to develop tools that can effectively detect PFAS and predict their potential to bioaccumulate, ultimately protecting people from harmful exposures.

Asta Habtemichael, 2022 Switzer Fellow

Congratulations, Asta!