Husk-to-Home Team


Colin Eckerle

Chemical and Environmental Engineering
Colin Eckerle is a Graduate Student at UCR majoring in Chemical and Environmental Engineering. In addition to being the international project leader of UCR's Engineers Without Borders chapter, he also conducts air quality research at the Center for Environmental Research and Technology.


Michael Pfaff

Chemical Engineering
Michael Pfaff is an undergraduate chemical engineering student at the University of California, Riverside. Along with being on the Husk-to-Home team, he is currently president of the AIChE chapter at UCR which focuses on professional development. Michael just finished an internship with Westlake Chemical in Sulfur, Louisiana where he worked at Petro 2 making ethylene. In the future he hopes to work as a process engineer in a larger plant or refinery.


Barbara Garayzar

Mechanical Engineering
Barbara is a Junior, working towards a Bachelors of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Riverside. In parallel to her work at Husk-to-Home, she currently serves as Vice President of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) at UCR where she is involved in organizing and planning of all club events and meetings, and is a part of the suspension team on UCR's Formula SAE competition team where she has helped develop the geometry and lay out of their car's 2016-2017 internal combustion engine. Her experience as a leader and engineer are great assets to the Husk-to-Home team, and in the future, she plans to get her Masters in Architectural Engineering.


Ivan Dang

Chemical Engineering
Ivan Dang is a senior majoring in Chemical Engineering at UCR. In his junior year Ivan served as the public relations officer of the UCR chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). He also served as the co-host of the Paper competition at the 2015 AIChE Western Regional Conference. Ivan’s role in the Husk-to-Home is to research sustainable bioplastics. He is also the primary point of contact with our researchers Dr. Lee and Dr. Yoshimura who will run bioassays on the board with termites and wood-borer beetles. Upon graduating, Ivan aspires to go into industry to develop sustainable food sources and agriculture. 


Riya Sanghvi

Chemical Engineering
Riya Sanghvi is a Chemical Engineering undergraduate student at the University of California, Riverside. Riya has been involved for a year of research on membrane filtration technology with Dr. Jassby and an internship in India over the summer with a water filtration company, Genesis Membrane. She leads Academic Development of the Society of Women Engineers and is Secretary of Project RISHI (Rural India Social and Health Improvement). Riya has hopes to continue learning and applying her knowledge to help others around the world.


Mark Hsu

Environmental Engineering
Mark Hsu is a senior Environmental Engineering student with a focus in Water Quality Pollution Control. He has research experience in Membrane Filtration Technology and is the Vice President of UCR's Engineers Without Borders. Mark plans to work in the industry at a Civil and Environmental Engineering firm as an Environmental Remediation Consultant. In the future Mark plans to earn his P.E. license and to attend graduate school. 


Akshay Gadkari

Akshay Gadkari is a Economics undergraduate student at the University of California, Riverside. He has a background in financial analysis and previously served as the marketing coordinator of a startup firm. In the future, he wishes to build a robust financial payments network. Currently, he is dedicated to helping Husk-to-Home develop and sell the best eco-friendly materials it possibly can. 


Keanu Valibia

Business Administration
Keanu Valibia is a fourth year Business Administration major with a concentration in Information Systems. Keanu loves to help his fellow students and is always willing to provide a helping hand wherever he is needed. Over the past three years, Keanu has been actively involved in the UCR community, serving as President of Students Consulting for Nonprofit Organizations and President of the School of Business Administration's Student Leadership Council. In the future, he hopes to continue a career in consulting while dabbling in the startup world to continue making an impact on the world and making it a better place for everyone. 


Dr. Kawai Tam

Dr. Kawai Tam obtained her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Chemical Engineering and her Ph.D. in Biosystems Engineering from McGill University. She has been a full-time lecturer in the department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at UCR since 2002; teaching a number of courses including the capstone senior design course. She has mentored 160 undergraduate students in design competition projects since 2005, guiding them to first place honors in multiple competitions. She is also the faculty advisor for the EWB at UCR.


Dr. Michael Rust

Professor Rust obtained his BA in zoology from Hiram College in Ohio in 1970. He received his MA and Ph.D. Degrees in Entomology from the University of Kansas in 1973 and 1975. Professor Rust’s 37-year career as an urban entomologist began at the University of California, Riverside in 1975. He has served as the Chair of the Department, Co-Director of the University of California Integrated Pest Management Program, and Director of Center for Invasive Species Research. Currently, he is semi-retired and holds a special appointment in the Department of Entomology and the Graduate Division.


Dr. Suveen Mathaudhu

Dr. Mathaudhu serves as an Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department and Materials Science and Engineering Program at University of California, Riverside, where he studies the underpinning mechanisms that will make metallic materials and composites lighter and stronger. He received his Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University in 2006. He is active in several technical societies, including the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society, the Materials Research Society and ASM International. He is also an expert on the science of superheroes as depicted in comic books and their associated movies, and frequently speaks and consults on this subject.

Husk-to-Home Alumni



Dennis Jones

Business Administration
Dennis Jones is a senior Business Administration student at UCR with a concentration in Marketing. Throughout his prior business career he has developed a diverse set of skills including the management of a restaurant to computer programming. Currently, he is fine tuning his skills as a Data Scientist while concurrently getting his feet wet in the art of entrepreneurship through the efforts of launching Husk-to-Home. Dennis hopes to continue his business career in a fashion that lets him use his business skills to change the world for the better.

Jose Corbala

Environmental Engineering
Jose Corbala is an Environmental Engineering undergraduate student at the University of California, Riverside. Jose's focus is on water and waste-water treatment, and his experience previous to his work with Husk-to-Home involves a year of research on membrane filtration technology and a six month internship with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Jose is responsible of measuring the water resistivity of Husk-to-Home's board prototypes and the load they were able to withstand on a screw.


Brandon Leu

Materials Science Engineering
Brandon is a senior material science engineer at the University of California, Riverside with a focus is on materials characterization.  Brandon is involved in undergraduate research with Dr. Suveen Mathaudhu and his research is a joint project with the US Naval Surface Warfare Center. Brandon has completed a summer internship with NSWC and has been invited back to continue his work this summer. In the future, Brandon hopes to pursue graduate studies in material science engineering.


Kevin Li

Environmental Engineering
Kevin Li is a fifth year environmental engineering student at UCR with a focus in water pollution. He is also the Microbial Fuel Cell Project Leader in UCR's Engineers Without Borders and has acquired research experience in chemical vapor deposition. Kevin plans to work in industry at a civil and environmental engineering firm as an environmental remediation consultant or on field engineer. In the future, Kevin plans to attend graduate school to earn his Master's degree.


Jacqueline Ortega

Chemical Engineering
Jacqueline Ortega is a senior chemical engineering student at UCR with a concentration in nanotechnology. Jacqueline currently serves as the Vice President of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) at UCR, where she is involved in professional development, community and K-12 outreach, and encouraging female presence within the college. Upon graduating, Jacqueline plans to enter the technology industry and get involved in SWE's professional section. She will also continue her involvement in humanitarian efforts and hopes to serve on missions in developing countries.


Brian Rojas-Lerena

Environmental Engineering
Brian R. Rojas-Lerena is a fifth year environmental engineering student with a focus in water quality pollution control. He has research experience conducting wastewater treatment and analysis, and he has worked as a lab manager, which involved chemical waste management and producing a feed solution to maintain the biological reactors in the lab. In the future, Brian would like to work as an environmental remediation consultant to provide treatment processes and remove hazardous waste from water sources and contaminated land.


Jeniene Abugherir

Chemical Engineering
Jeniene Abugherir is a senior studying chemical engineering with a concentration in nanotechnology at UCR. She has both research and internship experiences. Her research at UCR involves ultrastructural investigation of biological minerals and their formation mechanisms in order to design biomimetic composite structures. Her work received a mini-grant research award during the Spring of 2014. She has also interned abroad at the Birzeit Pharmaceutical Company and obtained training in the departments of Production, Quality Assurance, Quality Control, Validation, and Water Treatment. In addition, Jeniene held the position of outreach coordinator for the AIChE at UCR in 2013. Jeniene aims to work in the material science engineering industry with a side goal of inspiring children and teenagers to pursue a degree in engineering.


Lamees Alkhamis

Environmental Engineering
Lamees Alkhamis is a senior majoring in Environmental Engineering at UCR. She has gained invaluable research experience in Dr. Haizhou Liu's lab where she investigates ways to reduce the carcinogenic chromium (VI) to chromium (III) in drinking water. She presented this work at the 2014 American Water Works Association Conference (CA and NV section) and won second place in the poster presentation competition. Lamees is also involved with Tau Beta Pi (Engineering Honor Society), EWB, and is one of the founders and student leaders of the Middle Eastern Student Center in UCR. Lamees also volunteers with Grid Alternatives (Non-Profit Organization) on solar panel installations. Lamees aspires to obtain her Master’s degree in environmental engineering and become an environmental engineering consultant.


Joel Sanchez

Chemical Engineering
Joel Sanchez is a senior studying chemical engineering at UCR with a concentration in nanotechnology. Joel conducts research at UCR during the academic year on the treatment of aquatic micropollutants using thin films and nanofibers. During the summer of 2014, he also conducted research at UC Berkeley as an Amgen Scholar on producing anti-cancer compounds in E. coli fermentation batches. He is currently involved in the organizations of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and EWB. Joel will be pursuing graduate studies next fall and wishes to work in the energy field providing new pathways for renewable energy in the future.


Chris Yang

Chemical Engineering
Chris Yang is a senior studying chemical engineering with an emphasis in nanotechnology at UCR. His research in the nanomaterial biomimetic lab at UCR includes work on zinc oxide nanocomposites for photocatalytic applications, and magnetic-controlled casting. Within one year of research he has received multiple awards and stipends: HSI Scholar, HSI Fall and Winter 2014 awards. Additionally, on campus he is involved with AIChE; helping to organize and set up events. He seeks a Ph.D. degree to devote his time into conducting research that will impact the lives of our community.