Introducing PROTECT’s first ROUTES scholar, David Berroa!

WP_20150727_11_53_15_ProThe “Research Opportunities for Undergraduates: Training in Environmental Health Sciences”(ROUTES) is a new program at Northeastern University designed to increase the number of underrepresented minority undergraduate students participating in environmental health (EH) research, which studies the effects of environmental contaminants on human health and communities. ROUTES scholars will receive training in interdisciplinary settings to enable them to continuing onto graduate studies and lifelong EH research careers.


WP_20150727_11_53_54_ProWe are proud to introduce our first ROUTES scholar, David Berroa. David is an undergraduate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northeastern University. Together with PROTECT, ROUTES will provide David with interdisciplinary training through hands-on research experience, research community engagement, mentoring and support. David will be joining PROTECT’s Project 5, working under the supervision of Dr. Akram Alshawabkeh and Dr. Ljiljana Rajic to develop electrochemical remediation technologies.


This is David’s story and motivation for the work he is doing with ROUTES and PROTECT.

Growing up in different areas of the Dominican Republic (D.R.) and Lawrence, Massachusetts, I saw firsthand how the crowded spaces and apartment buildings were not the only hazardous areas that lacked sanitation. In fact, the drinking water seemed to be one of the highest health hazards.

For example, I remember noticing an “Usted no debe beber el agua” sign when I was growing up in the D.R. In English, this said “You should not drink the water,” and was intended for tourists. It wasn’t until I asked my mom why we had to always boil the water then put it in the freezer that she explained the contamination in our daily drinking water. This further explained why my older brother contracted malaria for not following my mom’s instructions.

Learning about current environmental health issues in places like the D.R and Puerto Rico persuaded me to work with Prof. Alshawabkeh and his team. I know through the ROUTES program I will be part of a project that seeks to help communities that are of great significance to me. When I called my grandfather who lives in Toa Ata, Puerto Rico to tell him about ROUTES and PROTECT, he said was very proud and encouraged me to interest more students on these issues.