UN Sustainability Goals

  • Clean Water and Sanitation

Areas of Excellence

  • Sustainability

Global Challenge: 6th UN Sustainability goal: Fresh Water Accessibility 


In my research, I delved into the promising solution of net-zero desalination for addressing the critical freshwater scarcity in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. I explored how leveraging renewable energy sources to power desalination plants can revolutionize water resource management in arid areas. My focus is on cutting-edge membrane and thermal desalination technologies, assessing their energy efficiency, environmental benefits, and the latest innovations that make them viable. I shared insights from my analysis of hybrid desalination processes, the role of energy recovery devices, and particularly, the impact of solar energy in achieving sustainable, autonomous water production. Highlighting case studies, including innovative projects like those undertaken by Desolenator, I underscored the transformative potential of net-zero desalination. This approach not only promises to significantly reduce the carbon footprint associated with water purification but also presents a scalable model for securing water resources in regions grappling with scarcity. Through my investigation, I am convinced that embracing net-zero desalination is a critical step towards ensuring water security and environmental sustainability in water-stressed regions around the world.


Joanna Ibrahim is a Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering student at New York University, engaged in the GLASS (Global Leaders and Scholars in STEM) honors program and committed to the 6th UN Sustainable Development Goal: Water Accessibility. Through internships at Olokun Minerals, she has significantly advanced sustainable water management, focusing on both the profitability of eco-friendly solutions and the technical aspects of wastewater treatment. Her academic and practical experiences, including research on water harvesting in Abu Dhabi and leading projects for NASA competitions, underscore her dedication to innovation in sustainability and clean energy. Her leadership extends beyond the lab, as evidenced by her role being a TA for the General Engineering course, teaching first year engineering students about engineering design and sustainable energy solutions, and her achievements, such as Dean's List honors and Tau Beta Pi membership, highlight her academic excellence. Joanna's diverse skill set, including programming and multilingual fluency, positions her as a future leader in the field, ready to drive impactful change towards affordable and clean energy.

The Luminary Leader Award