Project Highlights

Summer 2018:

Summer 2019:

Earth and Environmental Science (BS) Virginia Wesleyan University '21 Batten Fellow at the Batten Honors College
Alexander J. Leonard: Earth and Environmental Science (BS) at Virginia Wesleyan University ’21 Batten Fellow at the Batten Honors College.

Angela Tsao: Computer/cognitive science major with a joint M.S. in artificial intelligence through the University of Georgia’s accelerated dual-degree program, pursuing certificates in sustainability and international agriculture. She is interested in ecological modelling for research and education purposes, and believes in that innovative technology will revolutionize our study of the natural world. She is most excited by the potential for virtual and augmented reality to transform the way we interact with data and each other.

Lillian Michaud: Currently a Junior at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Water: Resources, Policy, and Management.  Her studies are focused on water economics and policy and aquatic ecosystems.  She is currently the spring 2019 intern at the Virginia Water Resources Research Center at Virginia Tech, with a special focus on working with faculty to gain exposure to different careers related to water resources.  After finishing her degree at Virginia Tech, she plans to attend graduate school to further her education and experience in water policy and management.  Lily hopes to help create a more sustainable future for water resources through improved policy. She is beyond excited to join Dr. Wang in his research in China to gain both research experience and cultural enrichment! In addition to her water-related passions, Lily loves to play Ultimate Frisbee, go on adventures, and play music.

Parker Bartz: Biochemistry and Italian major at Vassar College, New York. He is interested in green chemistry, biochemical engineering, and environmental engineering.

Robert McElhinny: Master student majoring in Civil Engineering at Old Dominion University. His research focuses on the protection and restoration of streams and wetlands. Currently, he is a full-time employee of a consulting firm performing remedial investigations at the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also called Superfund, sites.

Summer 2021

Ms. Kati Burton, a senior at Virginia Tech, is pursuing a double-major B.S. degree in: 1) Water: Resources, Policy, and Management; and 2) Environmental Economics: Management and Policy. Kati is expecting to graduate in May 2022 and plans to get a M.S. degree in Applied/Environmental Economics. In summer 2000, Kati worked on a research project focusing on the home value losses resulted from the Elk River chemical spill in West Virginia in 2008. Kati is very interested in topics where water quality and social issues intersect such as sacrifice zones in rural Appalachia, and sustainability on a broad level and how corporate responsibility can advance green policies. In free time, Kati likes to run, hike, practice yoga, and volunteer in Blacksburg, Virginia through a service sorority as a part of.

Nick Ingold, EIT, is currently pursuing a M.S. degree in Environmental Engineering at Old Dominion University (ODU).  His focus and interest is in Water Resources (hydraulics and hydrology).  Nick is currently working for the County of Currituck in North Carolina as an Engineer Technician, where he assists in managing various utility projects related to the municipality’s water, wastewater, and stormwater systems. Prior to his graduate study, Nick attended the Virginia Military Institute and earned a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering.  Following his undergraduate study, Nick served in the United States Marine Corps as a Combat Engineer Officer, where he completed multiple construction projects throughout Okinawa, Thailand, and the Philippines. Outside of work and academics, Nick’s other passions are surfing, enjoying the outdoors, and spending time with his wife, Samantha, and their two dogs, Kunu and Hank.

Ms. Pushpita Kumkum has more than 5 years of research experience, focusing on water and wastewater contamination issues. Her portfolio includes several projects funded by National Science Foundation and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Pushpita is currently a PhD candidate in Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Old Dominion University (ODU). She graduated from University of Akron, Ohio with a Master of Science in Civil Engineering in 2013. Her Master’s thesis was based on fate and transformation of pharmaceuticals during drinking and wastewater treatment. This was an NSF funded project, and the goal of the project was to evaluate the formation mechanisms of iodinated disinfection by-products from x-ray contrast media. Pushpita started working in ODU as a volunteer student lead for participating at a nationwide design competition called “P3 – People, Prosperity and the Planet” organized by EPA. Inspired by the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, Pushpita’s team proposed to design and develop a low-cost household water filter using biochar to introduce a user-friendly cost-effective system for removing lead from drinking water. The proposed idea received the Phase I award from EPA for the conceptual model and the research work is published in the Journal of Health and Pollution. Pushpita has worked in collaboration with a research group from The University of Padova, Italy that explored the increase of microalgal growth in tannery wastewater by pretreatment with biochar. 

Pushpita worked on developing an on-site engineered solution to treat landfill leachate and stormwater to lower down the concentration of contaminants to the acceptable limit of discharge. She also investigated the degradation of microplastics (i.e., polyethylene) in contact with zero-valent iron (ZVI). 

Pushpita is actively involved in professional organizations such as Water Environment Federation, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). She has also participated in various community outreach program, i.e., presenting in environmental activist’s group meeting, demonstration in public schools etc. 

Traveling with family, making crafts and taking pictures and editing videos of her two beautiful daughters are her favorite pastime. 

Michaela Verwers is currently pursuing a B.S. degree in Biochemistry with a minor in Sustainability at Iowa State University. After finishing her degree in the Spring of 2022 she plans to search for a job in green chemistry or sustainable development. In addition to this international research experience, she works as a research assistant at the Bioeconomy Institute in Ames, Iowa. Outside of class, she enjoys thrifting, keeping plants, playing volleyball with friends, and caring for her cats, Layla and Tofu.