Jesi Lay, a biosystems and agricultural engineering graduate student, was awarded a U.S. Student Fulbright award in engineering for 2012-2013 to Sierra Leone where she will conduct research on rainwater harvesting with researchers at Njala University. Less than half the population in Sierra Leone has access to improved drinking water. Rainwater harvesting has the potential to greatly improve access to drinkable water in rural villages.
Lay traveled to Sierra Leone, in Western Africa, earlier on two OSU service outreach courses where she worked with a local non-governmental organization, Willamette Medical Teams, to drill water wells. “I loved every minute of every sweat-filled, laborious day,” she recalled. Other trips to England, Ireland, Brazil and Mexico reinforced her eagerness for international experiences. While in Monterrey, Mexico, for five days she helped deliver water filter systems to several communities in the area with Clean Water Mission.
“This Fulbright award is a dream come true. There is no way I would have made it this far without the endless mentoring I have received from faculty, staff and students at OSU,” said Lay. “I am looking forward to mentoring students at Njala University and instilling in them the importance of research and the importance of sharing gained knowledge with not only the academic community, but with society as a whole.”
Lay, a graduate of Broken Arrow High School, is the daughter of Yong and Lowell Lay. She received a B.S. degree from OSU in biosystems and agricultural engineering with a soil science minor in 2010. Her career goal is to work as a lead engineer on international development projects involving water quality and water management research, specializing in rainwater harvesting technologies.