Green Talent -- Xingmao “Samuel” Ma, assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, holds a dogwood cutting growing in a sealed pot for one of his experiments at a greenhouse at SIUC earlier this year. The German government recently named Ma a “Green Talent” for his work in environmental remediation in the context of bio- and nanotechnology. (Photo by Tim Crosby) Download Photo Here

August 27, 2009

Germans name SIUC professor a ‘Green Talent’

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The German government has honored an engineering faculty member at Southern Illinois University Carbondale for his work in environmental areas.

Xingmao “Samuel” Ma, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was among 15 of those throughout the world the Germans named a “Green Talent.” The award, given by Annette Schavan, federal research minister, cited Ma’s work in environmental remediation in the context of bio- and nanotechnology.

The federal Ministry of Education and Research named the winners after holding a contest this year aimed at finding outstanding scientific talent in environmental technology. A jury of top German scientists and researchers selected the winners.

The jury honored Ma and the others for their research’s long-term contributions to solving global environmental issues such as climate change, diminishing resource management, energy resources and pollution.

The country will host the winners during a weeklong science forum there later this month. In September, the group will visit German universities, research institutes and companies, learning about cutting edge projects from different fields of technology. They also will meet with young German scientists during a symposium there.

Ma’s studies at SIUC include projects examining remediation methods using plants to both detect and remove contaminants from groundwater, soil and sediment. Ma is studying how to use plants to extract certain toxins from the soil, sediment or groundwater. He also is looking at how plants can detect and measure contaminants in the environment. Ma wants to identify a mathematical formula that will help engineers not only find the contaminated areas, but measure how much is there.

Ma said he feels honored by the award.

“I am extremely thrilled and feel honored to be recognized by the jury of this award,” Ma said. “I am pretty sure that this will enhance the reputation of the University, as well. I cherish this opportunity and will take this opportunity to build up collaborative relationships will German scientists and other scientists around the world.”

Schavan said the government received many outstanding applications from around the world for the contest, and that the winners are an elite group.

“This response reflects the great international interest in Germany as an environmental technology location. With the Green Talents competition, we can help ensure that promising new environmental technologies are deployed more quickly,” Schavan said. “This competition is all about taking on joint responsibility for our future.”