MIT students awarded Lemelson-MIT Prize for Invention

Mahar Damak — “Eat it!” Lemelson-MIT Student Prize

Maher Damak is a $15,000 Lemelson-MIT “Eat it!” graduate winner for his polymer additive for agricultural sprays. Photo: Sarah Bastille

Maher Damak, a PhD student in the Varanasi Research Group in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, developed a polymer additive for agricultural sprays so that pesticides stick to the plants instead of bouncing off. Currently, when farmers spray their fields with pesticides, only 2 percent of the spray sticks to the plants. The majority of the pesticides bounce off the plants and seep into the soil, groundwater, and surface water, contaminating the environment. Damak’s invention is both biocompatible and biodegradable.

Recognizing the need for a support network of peers from his home country, Damak founded Tunisia@MIT to strengthen the cultural bonds of the Tunisian community. He also works with high school students in Tunisia who are considering applying to U.S. colleges and has served as an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program mentor to undergraduate students at MIT.

Damak is passionate about the water-food-energy nexus. After graduating, he plans to pursue an entrepreneurial path to bring his inventions to market. He has already co-founded a company, Infinite Cooling, which will commercialize another invention of his, a water recovery process intended to bring greater efficiency to the way that power plants use water.

Read more: MIT graduate students awarded Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for Invention

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