Three CEAE graduate students were awarded three-year fellowships through the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program. This highly competitive program provides funding for students pursuing graduate degrees in engineering, mathematics, and science.
Julie Korak, a doctoral student in the environmental engineering program, is working with Professor R. Scott Summers to develop an analytical method for detecting hydraulic fracturing fluid in groundwater. Hydraulic fracturing is widely used for the extraction of oil and natural gas. There is a growing concern that the chemical compounds, some of which are toxic, used in the fracturing process have the potential to contaminate groundwaters or enter surface waters during disposal. Julie plans to use fluorescence spectroscopy to develop an economic and simple method for detecting the presence of these compounds. Such a method would benefit both rural and urban communities wherever there is a prevalence of oil and gas development.
Austa Parker, a doctoral student in the environmental engineering program, is working on a research project with Professor Karl Linden, examining the use of advanced oxidation technologies to destroy chemical contaminants in drinking water. Her work will utilize advanced analytical chemistry techniques such as mass spectrometry and toxicity testing to identify oxidation byproducts for select chemicals on the US EPA Candidate Contaminant List. Her work will provide important information on the treatability of these contaminants, supporting policymakers, water utilities, consultants, and other academics.
Melissa Stewart, an MS candidate in the geotechnical engineering and geomechanics program, is working on a research project with Professor John McCartney involving centrifuge modeling of soil-structure interaction in energy foundations. After she completes her MS degree, Melissa will continue will her PhD degree at CU-Boulder, focusing on the impact of heat exchange on the deformation response of geosynthetic-reinforced soil structures.