Women Recognized for Advancing Research

 In the U.S., in 2018 women received just 21% of engineering degrees awarded and within industry, only 13% of engineers were women.

The WET Lab is taking big steps in changing the face of engineering, with women playing leading and active roles in developing new technologies.

The WET Lab, led by Bahman Abbasi, employs a team of 14 postdoctoral researchers, graduate students and undergraduates. More than a third of the team members are women.

“Our work can make lives better around the world,” said Abbasi. “I look for team members who are strong in their engineering fields and can contribute to the overall success of the team. Morgan, Elnaz and Sandy are some of the smartest and most productive team members,” said Abbasi.

A testament to their achievements, three women on the WET Lab team have been awarded competitive scholarships and a fellowship. Meet Morgan, Elnaz, Sandy.



Morgan Messer
Graduate Research Assistant

“I hope that when I have been working for many years I can help new female engineers find their path.”

Originally from Medford, Oregon, Morgan came to OSU-Cascades for the energy systems engineering program, and once here, tacked on a dual degree in sustainability.  She took to her mechanical engineering classes, appreciating how the discipline can design solutions for a wide variety of problems.  Morgan hopes to one day use her engineering skills to make the world cleaner and more sustainable. Currently a master’s student in mechanical engineering, she’s inspired by her work in the WET Lab. “We’re addressing a real-world problem and can make a large impact.”

Morgan recently received a scholarship from the Oregon Philanthropic Educational Organization. “They were looking for applicants with strength of character, commitment, and dedication to a goal,” she said. “Having someone else confirm that you are on the right track and want to help you reach your educational goals was a great confidence boost and motivator.”

Elnaz Nikooei
Graduate Research Assistant

“When I was admitted to the college of engineering in one of the top universities in Iran, I realized my dream.”

Elnaz came to Bend from Iran for the WET Lab. The research lab married her interests in energy efficiency, the natural environment and research. Specifically, it was the FRESH-Frac project and that caught her attention. Soon after she joined the WET Lab, the research team hosted an open house for local supporters and engineers. Seeing the genuine interest and enthusiasm from the visitors became a lasting and motivating memory. Now halfway through a Ph.D. program in mechanical engineering, she’s grateful to have landed in the right place. “In the WET lab I feel like I am learning something new every day” she said.

Elnaz hopes to one day launch her own business and provide clients with services that can help the environment.

The Pacific Northwest Clean Water Association recently presented Elnaz with an environmental stewardship scholarship. “I am so happy and honored to win this award,” she said.

Sandra Dennis


Sandra Dennis
Undergraduate Research Assistant

“My right to water holds as much weight as the right of someone from a less developed country. To have even a small role in this mission has been the experience of a lifetime.”

Growing up was tough and when she got older, Sandy’s car was her priority. It took her back and forth to minimum wage jobs and for a time, it was her home. When it broke down, she’d have to push it to avoid getting tickets. Keeping it running was critical. That’s what led Sandy, whose passion is art, to become an automotive technician. But after being the “girl mechanic” for more than a decade, getting married and having children, she was ready to be more.

Soon to graduate with a degree in arts, media and technology, Sandy has brought a full set of skills to the WET Lab. “There are two things that have kept me here. One is how much fabrication work I get to do. I love working with my hands and problem solving. The second is how I can combine my mechanical and art background.”

Sandy was recently awarded a Layman Fellowship to create, demonstrate and test a boiling based degasifier.