Mason Professor Named Outstanding American by Choice

Posted: October 22, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

Abul Hussam and UCIS director Scharfen
Abul Hussam and UCIS director Jonathan Scharfen.
Photo by Evan Cantwell

Mason chemistry professor Abul Hussam was named an Outstanding American by Choice by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Hussam was recognized by Jonathan Scharfen, USCIS acting director, at a naturalization ceremony for 50 new citizens held Oct. 21 on Mason’s Fairfax Campus.

“Through his accomplishments, Dr. Hussam has made an outstanding contribution to humanity. His work here at Mason has made a difference for thousands of people in his native country and beyond, and I congratulate him on this further recognition of his achievements,” said Mason President Alan Merten.

Hussam received the 2007 Grainger Challenge Prize for Sustainability Gold Award of $1 million from the National Academy of Engineering. The award recognized his innovative solution for removing arsenic from drinking water in developing countries.

Hussam, a native of Bangladesh, developed the Sono Filter, an inexpensive household water treatment system, after discovering that the water in his own village was tainted with arsenic. The filter uses no electricity and is safe for the environment. He and his brothers have been manufacturing and distributing the filters in Bangladesh for about five years, and more than 30,000 of the filters are currently in use in households, schools and businesses throughout the country.

Hussam was also cited by TIME magazine as a Global Hero of the Environment for 2007.

The Outstanding American by Choice initiative recognizes the significant achievements of naturalized U.S. citizens. USCIS presents the award to individuals who, through civic participation, professional achievement and responsible citizenship, have demonstrated their commitment to the United States and to the common civic values that unite Americans.

Since 2006, USCIS has presented the award to naturalized citizens who have made significant contributions to both their community and their adopted country. Previous recipients include U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, actor Andy Garcia and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel.

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