WEF Leader Kartik Chandran Named MacArthur Fellow

November 18, 2015

Achievements, Featured

Kartik Chandran, past member of Water Environment Federation’s (WEF’s; Alexandria, Va.) Board of Trustees, has been named a MacArthur fellow. Photo courtesy of Chandran.

Kartik Chandran, past member of Water Environment Federation’s (WEF’s; Alexandria, Va.) Board of Trustees, has been named a MacArthur fellow. Photo courtesy of Chandran.

Kartik Chandran, a past member of the Water Environment Federation’s (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Board of Trustees, vice chair of WEF’s Research and Innovation Committee, a 2013 WEF Fellow, and a leader in the water sector, has been named a MacArthur fellow.

Chandran was named a fellow for his research, which integrates microbial ecology, molecular biology, and engineering to transform wastewater from a pollutant to a valuable resource. He approaches wastewater treatment with the goal of producing clean water as well as such useful resources as fertilizers, chemicals, and energy sources, while accounting for climate, energy, and nutrient challenges. He has identified an optimal combination of microbes to remove nitrogen from wastewater while minimizing the release of nitrous oxide. This approach requires less chemical and energy inputs than traditional wastewater treatments and helps prevent algal blooms downstream by maximizing nitrogen removal, according to the MacArthur Fellows Program website.

Chandran also is using real-life applications of his research. In rural Ghana with his Engineers Without Borders (Denver) students, Chandran reengineered source-separation toilets to both provide sanitation and recover nutrients for use in agriculture. In Kumasi, Ghana, he also is testing the large-scale conversion of wastewater solids into biofuel while also providing new training opportunities for local engineers and managers, the website says.

In addition to being an active WEF member, Chandran is an associate professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering at Columbia University (New York). His research has been published in several journals including PLoS ONE, Environmental Microbiology, Environmental Science & Technology, and Biotechnology and Bioengineering.

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