PhD student to research multi-functional artificial coral reefs with prestigious fellowship

University of Miami College of Engineering graduate student, Kylee Rux, has been awarded a competitive fellowship by the Department of Defense to study the environmental impacts and opportunities of cement.
PhD student to research multi-functional artificial coral reefs with prestigious fellowship

In an exceptional display of academic excellence and forward-thinking, graduate student Kylee Rux has been awarded one of the most prestigious fellowships in the U.S. scientific community: the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship by the Department of Defense. This fellowship, funded for three years, will allow Kylee to explore the development of multi-functional artificial coral reefs. 

Inspired by early experiences in high school maintaining the classroom's saltwater aquariums, Rux developed a passion for addressing climate change, particularly its effects on the oceans. This led to a profound interest in combining engineering and marine science to create solutions that mitigate environmental impact. Rux’s interest was quickly piqued by the cement industry, known for its significant carbon emissions, but also for its unique potential. 

"Living in Miami, we are at the forefront of climate change and understand the urgency in protecting our coastlines," Rux explains. “I plan to investigate an artificial reef structure that mitigates wave impact and boosts biodiversity while extending the service life. A major area of interest is in exploring the reefs' multi-functional abilities towards enhanced resilience, such as self-healing.” 

Rux’s faculty advisor, civil and architectural engineering assistant professor, Prannoy Suraneni, is currently researching sustainable concretes. Green-gray solutions have been one of the main research focuses for the College of Engineering, aiming to find innovative solutions for shoreline protection and habitats for marine life to navigate climate change impacts.  

Over the next five years, Rux envisions continuing to develop solutions that reduce the impact of climate change, whether in academia or industry and hopes to mentor the next generation of innovators, particularly young girls. 

The Department of Defense NDSEG Fellowship is a highly competitive award given to students pursuing doctoral degrees in science and engineering disciplines. Sponsored by the U.S. Navy, U.S. Space Force, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Army, the program aims to increase the number of U.S. citizens trained in disciplines of science and engineering of military importance. 

Rux was also awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRFP) but chose to accept the Department of Defense Fellowship.