From an early age, URI student wanted to protect the environment

URI civil engineering major will spend 16 days removing plastic pollution from the marine environment in Costa Rica, thanks to a Metcalf Memorial Fellowship

KINGSTON, R.I. – April 19, 2022 – For as long as he can remember, Logan Beattie has had an appreciation for the environment, which is why a family trip as a 5-year-old to Fort Adams State Park in Newport sticks out in his mind many years later.

“I remember walking along the shoreline and seeing plastic bags and other types of pollution in the water,” said Beattie, a junior at the University of Rhode Island who is majoring in civil engineering. “I had a conversation at the time with my older brother about how the pollution was detrimental to marine life.”

Beattie’s awareness and passion for environmental conservation and protection grew as he got older.

“It bothered me that pollution wasn’t being addressed with the urgency I felt it deserved,” said Beattie, who is from Tiverton. “This was especially frustrating having grown up in Rhode Island, where we pride ourselves on our beautiful shoreline and beaches. The lack of attention on the issue, coupled with my desire to solve large problems, sparked my interest in studying environmental engineering at URI.”

Beattie is minoring in sustainability, mathematics, and environmental engineering.

In addition to his classroom studies, Beattie is analyzing the effects some chemicals have on treated water in the Water for the World Environmental Engineering Laboratory at URI.

“I’m studying the interference effect that manganese oxides have on the detection of chlorine in treated water using diethyl-o-phenylenediamine and a spectrophotometer,” said Beattie.

Beattie learned about the Water for the World Lab when he took an environmental engineering class last fall taught by URI Assistant Professor Joseph Goodwill.

Taking what he’s learned so far, Beattie will participate in the 10-week Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program under the direction of Coleen Suckling, assistant professor of sustainable aquaculture at URI.

“I’ll work in a team with other students to capture samples of microplastic pollution and then study the impact it has on the environment,” said Beattie.

Later in the summer, Beattie will spend 16 days in Jaco Beach, Costa Rica, removing plastic pollution and waste from the marine environment and surrounding beaches.

“I’ll learn about the unique challenges countries with fewer resources and financial flexibility have with solid waste management compared to more developed nations,” said Beattie. 

Beattie’s trip will be funded by a Michael P. Metcalf Memorial Fellowship. Goodwill was one of the mentors who wrote Beattie a letter of support for the fellowship.

“Logan has all the right attributes to make a major difference in the world: hustle, grit, curiosity and trustworthiness,” said Goodwill.

Beattie expects the fellowship to provide a cultural experience that will support his long-term goal of implementing more sustainable waste management practices and environmentally friendly materials in an effort to remediate the effects caused from anthropogenic pollution. 

“This experience will benefit me as an engineer and provide the cross-culture competencies I need to make the global impact I’ve dreamed of making,” said Beattie.