Meet Raja Zubair Zahoor Qadiri

Raja Zubair Zahoor Qadiri is a Civil and Environmental Engineering Ph.D. candidate. His research focuses on sustainable wastewater management. 

Currently, Zubair is developing sensors for monitoring wastewater treatment. The other half of his studies are about utilizing anaerobic bacteria to consume waste. 

When one feeds waste to anaerobic bacteria, they produce methane and a substance called digestate. He said that this digestate, which is usually thrown out, can be used as a fertilizer. Nothing has to be wasted, Zubair said. 

His interest in this area predates his Ph.D. Back at Aligarh Muslim University in India, Zubair did his master’s thesis on the role of aquatic plants in artificial wetlands in managing wastewater. Artificial wetlands play an important role as a supplemental regulatory feature for wastewater, especially as an inexpensive alternative to treatment plants in developing countries. 

“These plants can be used to supplement that wastewater treatment technology. We can do that in the rural area and plants are not high maintenance. Developing countries don’t have a lot of methods of treatment like wastewater treatment plants, so this is an inexpensive option,” Zubair said.

Zubair did his Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering and Master’s in Environmental Engineering at the same university. He said that he always had an interest in math and science. This pushed him to civil engineering. 

He didn’t feel like civil engineering fit him. When environmental engineering was introduced to him later, he liked how it combined his interests in chemistry, math, and biology.

After his Ph.D., Zubair worked as a Junior Research Fellow and project associate at the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee and IIT Delhi. He evaluated the functionality of wastewater management projects.

After this, he went to a Ph.D. program for 5 months in Israel but then got an offer from UConn to join. 

“I applied to a professor here and her research interests matched with mine. I didn’t know much about UConn before coming here, but I talked to a lot of people and I got a really good response from everyone that Connecticut is socially very well off. So basically, that was my deciding factor,” Zubair said.

Zubair found Connecticut welcoming. He said that his social life has flourished here. Part of that was due to the John Lof Leadership Academy. 

He heard about JLLA through an email advertisement from the Department of Engineering. He was interested in broadening his leadership skills and it was something everyone should practice. 

“Leadership involves a lot of things. You should have a vision, empathy, and know how to talk to people. At the same time, you have to know when to push the right buttons. I think that these are a few important aspects of leadership,” Zubair said.