Michigan Law student receives a 2018 Dow Sustainability Fellowship

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Fascinated by new technologies and innovation, Rand Pummill studied chemical engineering, earning a bachelor’s in chemical engineering, a master’s degree in petroleum engineering, and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering, all from the University of Utah.    

He then spent four years as a senior engineer at Reaction Engineering International in Salt Lake City, leading internal and external team research efforts to help chemical and energy producers reduce pollution and carbon emissions. “I really enjoy seeing clever solutions to complex problems,” he says.     

Last year, Pummill headed to the University of Michigan Law School, with the goal of practicing in the intellectual property field after graduation.“Prosecuting patents will give me the opportunity to see new advances in technology and to help the inventors protect their rights,” he says.

“I'm really enjoying being a student again and MLaw has been a welcoming place,” he adds. “MLaw strives to create a collegial atmosphere, which I appreciate. This friendly atmosphere helps students focus on learning the material rather than trying to get the best grades or impress the instructors. The faculty members are passionate about what they teach, and that comes across in their lectures. And the hours of reading aren't so bad when you get to do it in the Reading Room.”   

Pummill, who serves on the board of the Intellectual Property Student Association (IPSA), was one of three MLaw students selected for a 2018 Dow Sustainability Fellowship that brings together students from diverse backgrounds and fields of study to work together on projects that promote sustainability. In total, 34 master and professional-degree students from 10 University of Michigan schools and colleges were named Dow Sustainability Fellows. Each will receive $20,000 for their studies and become part of a diverse and collaborative community.

“I'm honored to have been chosen,” he says. “The project possibilities are very broad with projects that focus on city life and infrastructure, food, energy, and other topics.”

Pummill’s Fellowship team plans on tracking what happens to electronic waste that is recycled in the Ann Arbor area. 

“A lot of electronic waste ends up overseas, which is a violation of international laws,” he explains.

“We plan on tracking where our waste ends up so we can better understand how electronic waste ends up overseas and raise awareness among the local recycling companies as to which channels are resulting in the waste ending up in a landfill rather than recycled.” 

Pummill, his wife, Rachel and four children call Salt Lake City their home base, but are enjoying their time in Ann Arbor while Pummill attends MLaw. 

“Rachel majored in music and she is teaching our kids to play instruments,” says Pummill, whose leisure pursuits include board games and cooking.

“Her goal is to mold them into a string quartet—our home can be quite noisy.”

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