Congratulations to this year’s Holly A. Cornell Scholarship winner, Chloe Wooldridge. Chloe will be honored at the Water Industry Luncheon during American Water Works Association ACE conference tomorrow. The Holly A. Cornell Scholarship was created by CH2M HILL in 1990 to honor founder Holly A. Cornell. The scholarship encourages and supports outstanding female and/or minority students pursuing graduate studies in the field of water supply and treatment. The Scholarship is part of AWWA’s scholarship program, and is awarded annually to the recipient selected by the AWWA University Student Activities Committee. The most outstanding student is presented a one-time grant of $5,000. For 2013, we are happy to be able to sponsor the scholarship for Chloe.

Chloe earned a BS in civil engineering with an environmental emphasis from the University of Kansas (KU) in May 2012. During her undergraduate career, she was involved in research through a summer NSF funded Research Experience for Undergraduates program at Kansas State University as well as through working in an environmental microbiology laboratory at KU under the supervision of Dr. Belinda Sturm. Both of these research opportunities focused on the cultivation of algae as a source of lipids for biodiesel production. While investigating this topic, Chloe considered several factors influencing the growth of algae in order to optimize biomass and lipid yields including hydraulic retention time, addition of glucose, and forcing autotrophic, heterotrophic or mixotrophic growth conditions. In addition, the possibility of using waste glycerol from biodiesel production as a carbon source for algal growth in efforts to minimize a waste stream in the overall biodiesel production process was investigated. This laboratory experience strengthened Chloe’s desire to attend graduate school and taught her a valuable microbiology laboratory skillset that has proven useful for her current research at the University of Texas at Austin.

Chloe first developed an interest for drinking water through an Introduction to Environmental Engineering course at KU. This course opened her eyes to the field of environmental engineering and led her to the decision of choosing an environmental emphasis to complement her civil engineering degree. Subsequent environmental engineering courses taken at KU refined her interests to drinking water and led her to the decision of investigating microbiology in relation to drinking water during her graduate career. Chloe has just completed her first year of graduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin investigating the microbial community that is present during showering events. Through this research, funded by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, she will consider fungal and bacterial species, with specific interest in those that are potentially harmful to immunocompromised individuals, by utilizing culture and culture independent methods. Several microbial sources within the shower environment will be examined, including water leaving the showerhead, showerhead biofilms, shower stall biofilms, and aerosols before, during, and after showering events.

At the University of Texas at Austin Chloe is currently pursuing an M.S. in Environmental Engineering under the supervision of Dr. Mary Jo Kirisits and Dr. Kerry Kinney. Upon completion of her M.S. degree, Chloe plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering where she will continue drinking water-related research. Chloe eventually plans to become an environmental engineering professor where she can continue to study drinking water distribution in relation to microbiology.