Most Promising Grad Student
If Chevron won't clean up the greasy messes it makes, at least UC Berkeley graduate student Thomas Azwell is trying. Busy pursuing his Ph.D in environmental science, policy, and management, Azwell is developing thermophilic composting as an oil-spill remediation technology. The hope is that such people as the Amazonian Ecuadorians dwelling in Chevron's abandoned cancerous muck could take environmental cleanup into their own hands. By pooling the powers of bacteria, heat, and, eventually, worms, to break down petroleum waste, the rancid oil can be reintegrated into the earth as clean, nutritious compost. Closer to home, Azwell is coaching students at Concord's Mt. Diablo High School in growing vegetables, installing solar panels, collecting native plant seeds and restoring habitat on the school property. Azwell also is dabbling between classes in a remarkable system of urban gardening called hydroponic agriculture in which he grows vibrant organic produce without soil. Outlandish but true, it's just another extracurricular project of soon-to-be-Dr. Azwell.