Mackenzi Shepherd

Mentor: Dr. Jeff Ullman
College of Engineering
"Research allows me to explore the fields that I'm passionate about while also developing new technology and methods that will benefit the world today. "


Biological Engineering



Research Interests

  • Biochar
  • International Development
  • Water Quality

Academic Awards

  • CALS Central Florida Fair Scholarship Recipient
  • Giles and Martha Van Duyne Scholarship
  • University Scholars Program
  • Dean's List


  • Engineers Without Borders UF Nepal Team
  • American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers


  • The Servants' House Ministries: Love Outreach International - Mexico Water Project

Hobbies and Interests

  • Swimming
  • Rock Climbing
  • Traveling

Research Description

Production of Biochar in the Field
Biochar is a solid material obtained from the pyrolysis of organic matter that is comparable to charcoal. It can be made from a wide range of natural materials, such as grass, bamboo, and wood. Due to the large surface area and presence of various functional groups that can bind to different contaminants, biochar has several engineering applications, including soil conditioning, decontamination of hazardous materials, and water filtration. The purpose of this study is to test the ease of production of biochar using common field techniques and then comparing which is most effective at removing contaminants such as arsenic and bacteria. This goal of this project is to provide better recommendations for use of biochar as a filter material in the developing world.