Professor, Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering Dr. Daniel Zitomer, P.E. RESEARCHER
CLEAN WATER Marquette researchers turn their attention to one of the planet’s most threatened resources
In an Engineering Hall laboratory on Wisconsin Avenue, Dr. Brooke Mayer is studying how to use electricity to help clean up wastewater. Her colleague Dr. Patrick McNamara is experimenting with “cooking” sewage sludge to make it safe to use as fertilizer. Meanwhile, less than a block away, Dr. Krassimira Hristova, assistant professor of biological sciences, has been examining how ordinary household products washed down the drain could be turning toxic bacteria into superbugs immune to the medical weapons we’ve relied on for decades to keep them at bay. Over in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, Dr. Fabien Josse has been working on the faster detection of fuel and oil contamination in water using electronic sensors. If it works, it will shave valuable hours or even days off the time required to find out if water is pure, or poisonous, and accelerate remediation. Mayer, McNamara, Hristova and Josse are among several Marquette researchers who have turned their
By Erik Gunn
marquette university discover magazine 2014
attention to one of the planet’s most essential — and most threatened — resources: clean, safe water. Marquette researchers’ attention to water has a solid pedigree — both at the university and in the city where it’s located. Milwaukee was one of the first municipalities to employ bacteria to feed on pollutants in wastewater — so-called activated sludge treatment. “Milwaukee was always very proactive in public works,” says Dr. Daniel Zitomer, P.E., professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering and director of the Water Quality Center. The same is true of the university, although Zitomer says that may be coincidental. “Marquette has had a long history of environmental engineering education and research going back to at least the 1960s,” he says. It’s a reputation perhaps better known among insiders in the field. “We’ve always had this very strong program in environmental engineering, but one that’s very quiet,” Zitomer acknowledges. Members of the general public “don’t know about us,” he adds. “But
Published on Mar 18, 2014
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