UConn Environmental Engineering student wins EPA STAR

 

Rebecca “Becca” Rubinstein was recently awarded the EPA STAR Fellowship for her research on wastewater treatment with Dr. Ranjan Srivastava. Becca is a PhD student in the UConn Environmental Engineering Program, where her research is focused on understanding and modeling biological wastewater treatment. Nutrients commonly found in wastewater streams, particularly nitrogen species, can seriously damage aquatic ecosystems near the outfall, and as a result are carefully regulated. The microbial community that is largely responsible for nutrient removal from wastewater streams is very complex, changing in response to both nutrient loading rates and ambient environmental conditions. The objective of this project is to characterize the chemical and microbial system in the activated sludge basin of the UConn Water Pollution Control Facility through daily sampling and analysis at various locations in the treatment basin. A machine learning approach will be applied to model the system. The model will then be used to dynamically optimize treatment conditions. In developing this model, Becca hopes to provide a useful tool for evaluating the impact of different treatment techniques or system perturbations on treatment efficiency.