WEF Canham Graduate Studies Scholarship Recipient Works To Improve the Water Sector

Christine Dykstra, recipient of the 2016 Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Canham Graduate Studies Scholarship, stands in the laboratory with bioelectrochemical systems that convert carbon dioxide to methane. Photo courtesy of Zeou Dou.

Christine Dykstra, recipient of the 2016 Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Canham Graduate Studies Scholarship, stands in the laboratory with bioelectrochemical systems that convert carbon dioxide to methane. Photo courtesy of Zeou Dou.

Christine Dykstra wants to change the paradigm of wastewater treatment from simply removing contaminants to recovering resources and energy. The Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta) doctoral student adds receipt of the 2016 Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Canham Graduate Studies Scholarship to her growing list of achievements.

The scholarship, awarded every year to a WEF member working on post-baccalaureate studies in the water environment field, provides $25,000 for educational expenses. Recipients are expected to commit to working in the field for 2 years after completing their degree.

Dykstra tests a ceramic filter for drinking water purification in Mare Brignol, Haiti, with Engineers Without Borders (Denver). Photo courtesy of James Crawford.

Dykstra tests a ceramic filter for drinking water purification in Mare Brignol, Haiti, with Engineers Without Borders (Denver). Photo courtesy of James Crawford.

Dykstra, a student member of WEF and the Georgia Association of Water Professionals since 2014, dreams of working in the field of biological wastewater treatment. Currently pursuing a doctorate in environmental engineering with a concentration in water and wastewater quality, she is researching how to convert waste carbon dioxide into methane using a bioelectrochemical system. After receiving her degree, she plans on continuing to work toward the design of these and other energy recovery systems capable of reducing wastewater treatment costs while improving water quality.

“I have a desire to bring ideas out of the research lab and into practice to solve engineering problems and develop better ways of treating water and wastewater while minimizing the impact on the environment,” Dykstra said, adding that she also wants to pursue teaching to “help shape a new generation of engineers.”

Dykstra stands with a resident of Mare Brignol, Haiti, following the installation of the first household slow sand filter for water purification, as part of an Engineers Without Borders project. Photo courtesy of James Crawford.

Dykstra stands with a resident of Mare Brignol, Haiti, following the installation of the first household slow sand filter for water purification, as part of an Engineers Without Borders project. Photo courtesy of James Crawford.

In addition to her impressive academic and research experience, Dykstra has worked with Engineers Without Borders (EWB; Denver), assisting in the planning, design, and implementation of two water development projects. For an EWB water distribution and purification project in Mare Brignol, Haiti, she served as a water purification trainer, survey administrator and data analyst, and health and safety officer. For an EWB water storage and distribution project in Oloo, Uganda, she served as a technical committee member.

“My experiences with EWB have given me practical training in many aspects of water system design, as well as problem solving while in the field,” she said.

 

— Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights

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