CEE PhD student Shilva Shrestha has received the Water Environment Federation (WEF) Canham Graduate Studies Scholarship. This scholarship, honoring former WEF Executive Director Robert Canham, provides $25,000 for a post-baccalaureate student in the water environment field.
The WEF Education Awards recognize WEF members for significant accomplishments in promoting awareness and understanding of water environment issues through the development and execution of academic research, curricula and public education programs.
Shrestha’s research involves the recovery of medium chain carboxylic acids (MCCAs) from diverse organic waste streams such as food waste, with heavy emphasis on brewery waste. She is focusing on brewery waste because the increase in the number of breweries in the U.S. is creating considerable challenges for waste management. In rural communities, breweries are often the largest producers of wastewater to be treated by municipal water resource recovery facilities, with such discharge fees constituting 8-22% of the total utility operating costs. Shrestha is developing technology that uses anaerobic fermentation by a mixed culture microbial community to recover the MCCAs from the waste. MCCA production from waste streams has the potential to address resource depletion concerns while simultaneously treating waste. Following the completion of her degree, Shrestha plans to pursue a career in research and continue working on innovative projects that enable sustainable practices of recovering bioenergy and biochemicals from waste. Shrestha is advised by Professor Lutgarde Raskin.