Written by Ali Darwish
All summer, I looked to intern with a company that did work representative of my worldview and intended research direction. After a lot of looking, I finally found an internship that fit that description, and it was a sweet feeling. Anactisis is a company that uses novel processes for separating and extracting rare earth elements from mining tailing waste. Using these extracted elements, such as Scandium most notably, Anactisis is able to use it as a feedstock for sale. The benefits of scandium specifically include lighter alloy alternatives for products such as airplanes, fuel cells, projectors, and more.
Turning waste that harms the environment substantially into beneficial feedstock provides a huge environmental and human gain. I have helped Anactisis so far by putting together stringent sustainability guidelines to further ensure a sustainable process approach. I have done so by working with two excellent leaders that have guided me on this project. They have accomplished incredible things in the science industry, and I am incredibly fortunate to simply discourse with them weekly.
On a day-to-day basis, I have been researching previous guidelines for green chemistry approach. Then, I have been using this literature as a foundation for creating guidelines more specific to Anactisis. As I develop ideas more, I have been meeting with my supervisor once to twice a week. Soon, I will present my findings to the head of science operations and based on this, I will hopefully have it approved and move on to the next project, which could be seeking out more funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) or Department of Defense (DOD).
I was surprised by how much funding is allotted by the NSF to companies that have environmental ambitions and are able to demonstrate their technology. Particularly surprising about this was how much funding can be found, such that startups can be largely free from venture capital funds and not need to draw loans.
If I am to seek out an internship again, I would advice someone to start early and stay patient. Find what most aligns with your deepest held beliefs and potential future direction. Do not be afraid to ask peers, people you have networked with in the past, and local startups. Even non-local startups can be of help, in fact the startup I have been interning with is based in Pittsburg, PA and I am doing remote work for them.
Here is a link to the Anactisis website, offering a little more information their direction and services.