Civil engineering major Sarah Hardy ’14 (Rowley, Mass.) has been awarded a Udall Scholarship to continue her research of ecological wastewater treatment.
Presented to 50 students from 43 colleges and universities, the scholarship is given to recipients on the basis of commitment to careers in the environment, Native American healthcare, or tribal public policy; leadership potential; academic achievement; and record of public service. Each scholarship provides up to $5,000 for the scholar’s junior or senior year.
The 2013 Udall Scholars will assemble Aug. 7-11 in Tucson, Ariz., to receive their awards and meet policymakers and community leaders in environmental fields, tribal health care, and governance.
Hardy is leading a team of students exploring the potential applications of aquaponics systems in wastewater treatment. The systems use a series of tanks growing plants, fish, bacteria, and fungi that convert raw sewage into clean water in a matter of days. Compared to traditional methods, it is a quieter, chemical-free, and odorless way to treat wastewater.
With the Udall Scholarship, Hardy plans to continue and expand her research into her senior year. She will continue tests conducted this past semester on phosphorus removal in a constructed wetland to optimize design characteristics such as plant species and substrate.
“Since it is often difficult to replace entire conventional treatment plants with aquaponics systems, I am adapting a component of the ecological wastewater treatment system for integration into conventional treatment plants,” she says. “This research is important because ecological wastewater treatment makes wastewater treatment odorless and aesthetically pleasing. This means systems are no longer limited to being implemented at the outskirts of cities. Instead, they can be integrated into parks and also serve as centers for teaching environmental science to all ages and educational backgrounds.”
This semester Hardy, along with Alexa Gatti ’16 (Whippany, N.J.), and Sally Trout ’16 (Seven Valleys, Pa.), are conducting laboratory tests on plants grown in wastewater. In the fall, they studied a system installed at Penn State University that uses organisms to treat effluent from an academic building. They are working under the guidance of Arthur Kney, associate professor and head of civil and environmental engineering.
Along with the Udall Scholarship, Hardy previously received a $48,900 Environmental Protection Agency Greater Research Opportunities Fellowship to support the project.
After Lafayette, Hardy plans to attend graduate school in water resources or environmental engineering before starting a career either as a professional engineer or conducting engineering research.
For information on applying for scholarships and fellowships, contact Julia A. Goldberg, associate dean of the College, (610) 330-5521.