Posted by Bill Davis on Oct 17, 2017
By Bill Davis and Jennifer Mutchler
At the Rotary Multi District Training Institute (MDTI) held in Austin on August 11-12, 2017, Dr. Isis Mejias was presented with the Rotary Alumni of the Year Award by former Rotary International Director and Treasurer Andy Smallwood as well as former R.I. Director Don Mebas. The MDTI program consists of Rotary Districts in Texas and Oklahoma.
Isis was born in Venezuela and moved to Houston with her family after completing high school. She earned a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Houston. Later, while working in the private sector, she visited Kenya as a volunteer with Engineers Without Borders (EWB). In Kenya, her EWB team discovered that the only hospital in the community of Maseno did not have running water.
Upon returning to Houston she recalled that Bill Davis and the Humble Club had funded a Matching Grant with EWB the previous year to provide a new water well to a community just outside of San Salvador where the only well had become contaminated. Isis reached out to him and the Humble Club agreed to raise funds for the new project in Kenya. This project was completed with great success.
Around this time Bill Davis invited Isis to apply for an Ambassadorial Scholarship. She was awarded the scholarship and pursued a joint PhD in Environmental Engineering from the University of Sao Paolo in Brazil and the University of Houston. Dr. Mejías’s PhD research related principally to the removal of pernicious environmental contaminants in drinking water, particularly diseasecausing microorganisms and heavy metals such as zinc and copper. Her investigation has demonstrated that some derivatives of the revolutionary nanomaterial graphene can destroy harmful bacteria in water while causing no damage to human cells. She also successfully demonstrated that some of these materials could remove heavy metals dissolved in water. This line of research has led to a patent and development of a water filtration system.
While studying in Brazil she developed a $68,000 Matching Grant with her host District 4610 to provide a mammography machine for a hospital in Sao Paulo.
After completion of her Ambassadorial Scholarship, Isis was invited by Rotary to lead a team of six Rotarians to Uganda to identify a large water project. This visit generated a 115-page report to Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (WASRAG). This led to a $301,000 Global Grant to provide water, sanitation, and education to the communities around Kalisizo, Uganda. This has proven to be a very successful project with funding from 21 Clubs in 17 Districts from 8 different countries. It is 70% completed.
Isis is fluent in three languages (English, Spanish, and Portuguese). She has been featured in a story on the Rotary web site, appeared in a Rotary Webinar, spoke on two panels at the International Convention in Sao Paulo and another panel at the 2017 Atlanta Convention. She has also spoken at District Conferences of 5890 in Houston and 5630 in Calgary.
She is currently employed by Jacobs Engineering in Houston and is a member of the E Club of Houston.
Isis Mejias Receives Rotary Alumni of the Year Award