With the drought in California reaching unprecedented levels, the state is seeking alternative ways to conserve what’s left of its water supply. Cal Poly Pomona biology student Renee Estephan led a team of students that came up with an innovative answer to help solve California’s drought — PolyPotable.
The team, composed of Estephan, Valentina Truong, April Aquino and Matthew Cui, invented a residential-friendly gray and rain water recycling system that can save homeowners money while salvaging their lawns. The key component of the invention is the reusing of precious water that typically goes down the drain.
The concept has taken off and industry experts and cities are paying attention. The I-Corps team has presented its concept to nine city councils and met with various municipal commissions.
The idea was hatched after Estephan won the CSUPERB/CSU Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Microgrant Award. This pioneering program allows CSU students and faculty researchers with a biological background or idea to get out of thelab and introduce their idea to potential partners, life science industry advisors and mentors.
“From developing business-model canvases to developing 10-minute pitches for potential investors, this program was definitely a crash course in entrepreneurship,” Estephan says. “I learned how to think like an entrepreneur and how to merge biotechnology and business.”
“As she has developed her skills and confidence over the last 2½ years, I was able to watch her transform into a competent, well-informed researcher and team leader,” says Jill Adler-Moore, program director for the NIH MBRS RISE Program. “It has been a delight to be a small part of her development and I look forward to following her as she progresses in her educational and career paths.”
Estephan is prepping for the GRE and will be applying to biology-related Ph.D. programs in Southern California and in Washington. She would like to study neuroscience or cancer biology.
Visit her project website for pictures and details about the interviews that were conducted: www.polypotable.weebly.com.