Ph.D Student Recognized for Research with a Global Impact

On April 8, Ph.D. student Rebecca Mayer was awarded with the “Where in the World?” Award for Global Impacts of Research in the area of Economic and Environmental Sustainability for her project “Alternative Energy Options for Cellular Base Stations in Nigeria.” Mayer, who is currently working on her dual degree Ph.D. in Engineering and Public Policy (EPP), says she was driven to apply for the award because of her interest in the global impact.

 Rebecca Mayer

Before enrolling in the Carnegie Mellon Portugal program, Mayer worked for Winrock International, a non-profit organization that works with developing countries to establish sustainable energy solutions and viable infrastructure. She says that a key element to this work is sensitivity to site specifications, which will dictate the size and integration of the energy system. “It’s really important to integrate the infrastructure into the community,” says Mayer. “Ultimately the community needs to support and maintain it.”
Mayer became aware of the issues addressed by her award-winning project while at Winrock International. In response to a World Bank call for proposals, she organized and headed a team that won a contract to work on a telecommunications project in Africa.

“It immediately became clear that there was a problem in African countries where cellular base stations were growing, but really fast and with not enough infrastructure to support them,” says Mayer. “There is a definite need for new energy solutions.”
The “Where in the World” Award Competition was one of several awards that comprised Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week, an annual five-day series of events to recognize Graduate presence on Carnegie Mellon’s campus. It was created to acknowledge the importance of research and its impact on the global stage.
“I’m really glad there is support from universities for research with a global impact,” Mayer says. “That’s what is so important about this award. That’s what is so great about the Carnegie Mellon Portugal collaboration.”

April 2010