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Emily Kim

Jericho Senior High School
Jericho, New York

About Emily Kim

Emily studied how activated carbon can remove commonly used dyes from wastewater through the processes of adsorption and photocatalysis, showing that there may be promise in using activated carbon to treat the wastewater produced by the fast fashion and textile industries.

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Emily Kim, 17, of Jericho, examined the potential of activated carbon to remove synthetic dyes for her Regeneron Science Talent Search environmental science project. Her interest in this topic was stirred when she learned that biotoxic dye waste from the fast fashion and textile industries contributes to about 20% of the world’s industrial pollution. Emily began by investigating activated carbon’s ability to remove two differently structured and commonly used azo dyes. She found that adsorption, by which the activated carbon pulls the dye molecules from the water, removed about 99% of the first dye but only 22% of the second. Then she added UV light, which increased the removal of the second dye to 92%. While further research is needed, Emily believes her experiment demonstrates promise in using activated carbon to reduce pollution from the fast fashion industry – which she says would be efficient and cost-effective.

Emily attends Jericho Senior High School, where she is president of the Research and Heritage Committee Club.

Beyond the Project

In launching a nonprofit that helps recycle clothing and raises awareness of the harms caused by so-called “fast fashion,” Emily has found “identity in the vast sea of activists and scientists fighting for change.”

FUN FACTS: Emily makes historical documentary movies about social justice trailblazers like Irene Morgan, who fought discrimination on public transit.

Illustration of 2023 STS finalist Emily Kim by Amy Wike