In the final installment of Meet the Summer 2020 RAPID Interns spotlight series, we are highlighting two of the students who participated in Summer 2020. Scroll down to learn more about Justin Rosenthal, a Master's degree student at Texas Tech University, and Da Zhang, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Arkansas.

Justin Rosenthal

Justin Rosenthal, a Master's degree student in Chemical Engineering at Texas Tech University, is currently working on a project entitled "Pervaporation for the Intensification of Solvent Dehydration" in the Malmali Reaction and Separations Laboratory (Malmadi Lab). The project aims to explore ways to improve the efficiency of the oil additive succinimide production, moving from batch processing to continuous processing. Justin has been tasked with developing a protocol to fabricate polyurethane and ZSM-5 pervaporation membranes effectively and consistently. Accomplishing this, Justin has since moved on to casting and evaluating the performance of these pervaporation membranes in separating 1-butanol from water.

What are your career aspirations?

Since I have largely worked with membranes for the bulk of my college undergraduate research, internships, and now graduate research I intend to stay on this path. Membranes lend themselves to a diverse variety of chemical engineering fields which potentially provide me with many career paths. I currently find great interest in potentially working with pharmaceuticals, membrane distillation, or possibly continuing research on pervaporation for an oil company. 

What are your thoughts on the RAPID Intern Program so far?

The RAPID Intern Program has been an extremely beneficial experience. It has helped primarily in educating me about process intensification and how this is imperative in today’s engineering world. Additionally, this program has helped me realize how my own research can act as a form of process intensification for biofuel separation. Besides the many valuable webinars and training courses, learning how to communicate effectively online is an invaluable skill that will likely benefit me throughout my career. In short, the RAPID Intern Program has been amazing. 

Da Zhang

Da Zhang, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Arkansas, is currently working on a project entitled "Increasing the efficiency of membrane-based bioreactor harvesting" under the Membrane, Science, Engineering and Technology Center (MAST), lead by professor Ranil Wickramasinghe. The project evaluates the fouling during the membrane-based cell harvesting process. The main question is: What are the foulants and how they foul the membrane?

What are your career aspirations?

I am interested in changing the world more than exploring the world. If that is difficult, I would like to help others change the world. My long-term goal is to contribute towards the development of advanced methods and devices that introduce cutting-edge technology to each lab, integrate complex procedures to simple steps, and help achieve higher efficiency with automated and remote operation. 



What are your thoughts on the RAPID Intern Program so far?

At the current stage in my career as a senior graduate student, RAPID Intern Program could help mobilize my career for future endeavors. Abundant online resources are available from the most basic ideas of process intensification to the industry-relevant technology. The program could provide me the opportunity to meet the interns every week to share their thoughts, help networking, and gain experience helpful for future career goals. Furthermore, peer review of the skills, ongoing research work, presentations could help improve the knowledge and overall output.


The RAPID Intern Program is an exciting opportunity for students working with RAPID members. It is a virtual PI leadership program that overlays on the work students are already doing at RAPID member organizations and provides students with PI leadership training and professional development skill-building opportunities like networking, career discovery, and public speaking/presenting. Click here for more information and to nominate a student.