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Current Graduate Fellows (2016-2018)



The NWRI Fellowship research must focus on developing and/or enhancing water supplies. Research topics include, but are not limited to, recycled water, treatment technologies, water and energy nexus, exploratory research, desalination, policy and regulation.


To read the recently submitted Final Reports of the NWRI Fellows, click here.



Principal Investigator: Natalie Hull, University of Colorado Boulder


Mechanisms and Sustainability of Wavelength-Tailored Ultraviolet Drinking Water Disinfection for Small Systems

Hull is a second-year doctoral student working under the supervision of Dr. Karl Linden. As part of her research for the DeRISK (Design of Risk-reducing, Innovative-implementable Small-system Knowledge) center, she studies cellular and molecular mechanisms of microbial ultraviolet (UV) disinfection for drinking water. Understanding how microbes are inactivated at different UV wavelengths can inform optimization of wavelength-tailored UV reactors incorporating emerging UV sources, such as light emitting diodes (LEDs). Because LEDs are smaller, consume less electricity, emit a variety of wavelengths, and don’t contain mercury found in traditional UV lamps, they could be a more sustainable disinfection technology for small municipalities. By optimizing wavelengths, microbes can be more efficiently inactivated. This mechanistic research, including design and evaluation of a wavelength-tailored UV reactor, will inform regulatory decision-making, enabling utilities to demonstrate compliance with mandatory treatment levels at lower doses than are currently required.


Download Natalie's Progress Reports:  Fall 2016. Spring 2017. Fall 2017. Spring 2018.

Principal Investigator: Mojtaba Azadi Aghdam, University of Arizona


A Novel Brine Precipitation with the Aim of Higher Water Recovery

Azadi Aghdam is a first year doctorate student studying Environmental Engineering under the supervision of Dr.Shane Snyder. His research focuses on increasing the clean water recovery rate from membranes using brine precipitation. As part of his studies, a new method for brine precipitation has been evaluated. This method successfully removed the antiscalant and scaling compounds from the brine and resulted in 97 percent water recovery from membranes. Azadi Aghdam is currently planning to build a pilot plant for a different project with the same aim of higher water recovery from membranes which includes fluidized bed crystallization bed as an intermediate precipitation step for membranes.



Download Mojtaba's Progress Reports:  Fall 2016. Spring 2017. Fall 2017. Spring 2018.

Principal Investigator: Devon Manley, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Study of the Viability of Chlorine Photolysis as an Advanced Oxidation Process in Water Treatment Systems

Manley is a second year doctoral student working under the supervision of Dr. Christina K. Remucal, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. She is evaluating the viability of chlorine photolysis as an advanced oxidation process for drinking water treatment. Advanced oxidation processes remove polar organic contaminants (i.e. pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products) from drinking water by producing the highly reactive oxidant hydroxyl radical. Many advanced oxidation processes are difficult and costly to implement. Chlorine photolysis utilizes existing plant infrastructure, dramatically reducing the cost of implementation. The main goal of this research is to determine the optimum treatment conditions (i.e. pH, irradiation wavelength, and chlorine concentration) for contaminant removal by chlorine photolysis.”


Download Devon's Progress Reports:  Fall 2016Spring 2017. Fall 2017. Spring 2018.

Principal Investigator: Kyle Shimabuku, University of Colorado Boulder


Biochar Sorbents for the Control of Organic Contaminants: Understanding Biochar Structure and Water Quality on Sorption Behavior

Shimabuku is in the fifth and final year of his doctorate degree under the supervision of Dr. R. Scott Summers. His dissertation focusses on developing sustainable and low-cost adsorbents for stormwater and wastewater treatment and reuse. Although biochar has the potential to be widely used to remove organic contaminants in conventional and unconventional drinking water sources, a better understanding of the relationship between its production conditions and sorption behavior is needed. Shimabuku is currently developing a sorption model to isolate the importance of different sorption mechanisms (e.g., hydrogen bonding). He is also evaluating how production conditions govern biochar properties and concomitantly sorption mechanisms and capacity. This research will further both a fundamental understanding of sorption phenomena and inform biochar producers of how to optimize the production of biochar sorbents for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater treatment.


Download Kyle's Progress Reports. Fall 2016. Spring 2017. (Graduated)

Principal Investigator: Jenna Krichling, San Diego State University


Non-Targeted Analysis for Discovery of Chemicals of Emerging Concerns in Treated Water for Drinking and Source Investigation

Krichling is pursing her master's degree in Environmental Health under the supervision of Dr. Eunha Hoh. Her research aims to use non-targeted analysis to assess any harmful chemicals found within the samples taken from a river in northeastern US. One of the limitations of analytical chemistry techniques is that you can only measure what you hypothesize. By using a non-targeted analysis, chemicals not targeted can be screened. The importance of this project is clear: to ensure public and environmental health is protected and that the wastewater we introduce into bodies of water are safe to later be reclaimed and treated for our consumption. With the endless need for safe drinking water and new techniques being formulated, it is imperative we put forth as much energy as possible in safeguarding our water supplies.


Download Jenna's Progress Reports: Fall 2016. Spring 2017.  (Graduated)




The NWRI-AMTA Fellowship research must pertain to the advancement of membrane technology in the water, wastewater, or water reuse industries. The research must also be consistent with AMTA’s vision statement: “Solving water supply and quality issues through the widespread application of membrane technology.” www.amtaorg.com


The fellowship is administered jointly by NWRI and AMTA, and provides $10,000 a year for two years to support graduate student research that pertains to NWRI's objectives to improve water quality, protect public health and the environment, and create safe, new sources of water, as well as AMTA’s mission to solve water supply and quality issues through the widespread application of membrane technology. Both recipients of the 2016-2018 award are conducting research on novel membrane technologies. You can read more about their research below.




Principal Investigator: Sarah Dischinger, University of Colorado at Boulder.


Recovery of Flowback Water from Hydraulic Fracturing Operations using a Nanoporous Liquid Crystal Polymer Membrane for Simultaneous Removal of Salt and Organics

Dischinger is a third-year doctoral student working under the supervision of Dr. Douglas L.Gin and Dr. Richard D. Noble, Professors of Chemical and Biological Engineering. She is evaluating the performance of a new liquid crystal polymer membrane to remove salts and organic compounds from hydraulic fracturing flowback water, which is the liquid produced during fracking (i.e., the process in which chemicals and water are injected into the ground to facilitate extraction of natural gas from underground reserves). This membrane differs from those currently in use in its ability to simultaneously remove both salts and organic compounds from flowback water while still retaining sufficient flow through the membrane. The research holds the potential to reduce the carbon footprint, capital costs, and energy required to treat flowback water.


Download Sarah's Progress Reports: Fall 2016. Spring 2017. Fall 2017. Spring 2018.

Principal Investigator: Mark Summe, University of Notre Dame.


Charge Mosaic Membranes from Layer-by-Layer Assembly for Improved Water Reuse and Treatment

Summe is a third-year doctoral student working under the supervision of Dr. William A. Phillip, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. He is developing a chemically selective charge mosaic membrane that can remove dilute ionic species such as nitrate, perchlorate, and heavy metals from drinking water; these are constituents of concern due to their well-documented effects on human health. The mosaic structure enables both cations and anions to permeate the membrane, thereby allowing dissolved salts to be transported more rapidly than water. This is a novel process in which only the contaminants (0.1% by volume), rather than the water (99.9% by volume), need to flow through the membrane in order to achieve treatment goals. Summe is particularly interested in developing this technique to improve feed water streams for potable reuse projects.  


Download Mark's Progress Reports: Fall 2016. Spring 2017. Fall 2017. Spring 2018.




The NWRI-Southern California Salinity Coalition (SCSC) Fellowship research must address the critical need to remove or reduce salts from water supplies and to preserve water resources in Southern California. Examples include institutional and regulatory issues, economics of reducing salinity levels, regional and watershed planning solutions, and public education, outreach, and awareness. www.socalsalinity.org



Principal Investigator: Ryan Gustafson, University of Southern California.

Impacts of Long-term Exposure to Flow with High Salinity and Temperature on Hydrophobicity of Membranes used for Membrane Distillations.

Gustafson is a second-year doctoral student working under the supervision of Dr. Amy Childress, Professor of Environmental Engineering. His research focuses on the use of membrane distillation (MD) as a strategy for addressing the challenge of increasing salinity in Southern California drinking water sources. MD is an innovative water treatment technology that is suitable to address water quality issues because its driving force is virtually unaffected by salinity and it can be driven by alternative energy sources. His objective is to to determine if long-term exposure to flow results in a reduction in membrane surface roughness over time, and to determine the net impact of long-term exposure to flow with high salinity and temperature.


Download Ryan's Progress Reports: Fall 2016. Spring 2017.  Fall 2017. Spring 2018.

Click here to learn more about the 2014-2016 NWRI Fellows.