CEE Students Present Papers at IWA-Sludge Conference

PhD student Sevda Alanya (left) and graduate student Albana Bega

In August, Albana Bega, a graduate student in Water Resources and Environmental Engineering, and PhD student Sevda Alanya MSWREE ’09 presented research papers at the 12th International Water Association (IWA)-Sludge Conference, held in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, China. The conference featured insightful presentations on the sustainable management of water and wastewater sludges around the world. Bega and Alanya, both of whom worked as graduate research assistants in the College of Engineering’s Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology Laboratory, gave podium presentations on separate projects related to biosolids, a byproduct of wastewater treatment plants.

  • Bega presented a coauthored paper titled “Acetoclastic Methanogens in an Anaerobic Digester Could Be Susceptible to Trace Metal Supplementation.” The investigation was the first step in a series of pilot studies being conducted by the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), the purpose of which is to optimize the performance of the anaerobic biosolids process. In this study, researchers evaluated the effects of nutrient supplementation on anaerobic biomass from two different full-scale digesters. “Our investigation yielded significant results, suggesting that trace metal supplementation should be considered on a case-by-case basis,” Bega said.
  • In her presentation on “Quantification of Viable but Non-Culturable Escherichia Coli in Dewatered Biosolids through Gene Expression via RNA Microarray,” Alanya described her research into the development of a genotypic method for accurately enumerating indicator organisms in biosolids—an ability that the current quantification methods lack. Because of the potential health and environmental risks posed by the organisms in biosolids, the need for an efficient quantification method is critical.

The mission of the IWA is to foster a global network of water professionals and to promote best practices in sustainable water management. “As young environmental engineers, we were honored to be part of this event by sharing our research and contributing to water development worldwide,” Bega said.