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ORNL Undergraduate Research Profile: Marko Ivancevic

CCI internship confirms chemical engineering student’s passion for research


ORNL Intern Marko Ivancevic

Marko Ivancevic researched methods to reduce the economic and environmental impact of desalinating water. He was a Community College Internship participant at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Though the majority of the earth’s surface is covered with water, only 1 percent is drinkable. To balance increasing human needs with current supplies, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are studying methods to efficiently remove salt from water and improve its drinking quality.

After reading published papers related to energy research at ORNL, chemical engineering student Marko Ivancevic applied to join those scientists through the Community College Internship (CCI) program. For 10 weeks he researched in the Chemical Sciences Division under the guidance of Parans Paranthaman, Ph.D.

Ivancevic’s project involved using low-cost recycled tire carbon as electrode material for capacitive deionization to desalinate water. This process involves generating an electric field between the electrodes to remove salt ions from the water. Many current desalination techniques have higher energy requirements.

“This project could provide drinkable water to the public at low cost economically and environmentally,” Ivancevic said.

The internship provided numerous learning opportunities to Ivancevic, who enjoyed running experiments, reading relevant literature and planning the next steps of his project.

“Every day can generate a new idea or challenge and you must be prepared to know what to do and when to do it,” Ivancevic said. “What you do one day can dictate what happens the next day, which keeps you on your toes.”

Ivancevic, who received his associate degree in engineering sciences from the College of Dupage, transferred to the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign to complete his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Eventually, he plans to pursue a master’s or doctoral degree.

His experience at ORNL confirmed his desire to participate in meaningful research as a career.

Ivancevic recommends the CCI program to other students: “If you are passionate about your field of study and enjoy researching new topics, then this internship is a great experience.”

The CCI program is sponsored by the Department of Energy Office of Science’s, Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists (WDTS) and administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE).