Congratulations to this year’s Holly A. Cornell Scholarship winner, Jennifer Liggett. Jennifer will be honored at the Water Industry Luncheon during the American Water Works Association (AWWA) Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE14). 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.

By: Jennifer Liggett, Recipient of the Holly A. Cornell Scholarship and Graduate Student at the University of Cincinnati in the Department of Biomedical, Chemical, and Environmental Engineering

I am incredibly humbled to be the recipient of the 2014 Holly A. Cornell Scholarship. I consider myself one of the rare individuals who has had an opportunity to work in a field of research in which I am as dedicated to as I am passionate about. My interest in science started at a young age when my mom would encourage my siblings and me to play outside. The natural world around me became a fascinating and complex set of questions and puzzles that I wanted to answer and solve. (I also attribute my interest in science to the fact that I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed Bill Nye’s bow ties.)

However, it was my undergraduate coursework in environmental studies at the University of Cincinnati (UC), and the semester I spent abroad in Costa Rica that truly opened my eyes to the field of drinking water research. I began to realize the importance of this research; not only for the sake of the environment but also for the sake of human health.

Upon graduation in 2008, I began working full time as a chemist for an on-site contractor at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). I was the lead researcher on a number of projects, which investigated the mechanisms and fundamentals of drinking water quality and the impacts it has on metal corrosion. As the years passed, I realized pursuing a master’s degree would serve me best to advance in this field. I recently completed my first academic school year in the environmental science program at UC, and I am working on the USEPA and UC traineeship program under the direction of Dr. Dion Dionysiou, Dr. George Sorial, Dr. Darren Lytle, Dr. Jonathan Pressman, and Dr. David Wahman. My thesis consists of using microelectrodes in a novel way to investigate the surface water chemistry of copper and iron metal coupons. The objective of this research is to provide insight into the coupon surface to help better understand the mechanisms of corrosion.

The Holly A. Cornell Scholarship has already given me more opportunities than I thought possible, including a new computer! I am also now able to attend AWWA ACE14. I plan on taking full advantage of all the conference has to offer. Additionally, I have made several contacts within CH2M HILL, and they have been nothing but kind and eager to help me on my journey. With a portion of the scholarship funds, I plan to fund my travel to the AWWA Water Quality and Technology Conference this November in New Orleans, where I will be presenting  on my master’s thesis research.

I am honored to be recognized with this prestigious award. I would like to thank the scholarship judges, CH2M HILL, AWWA, my parents and family, friends, and let’s not forget my cats. Oh, and my fiancé Luke, who has supported me through all of this!

Jennifer Liggett earned her Bachelor of Science degree in environmental studies from the University of Cincinnati in 2008. After graduation, she worked as a full-time chemist for Pegasus Technical Services, an onsite contractor to the USEPA, where she gained experience on drinking water quality, metal corrosion in drinking water distribution systems, and metal corrosion control. Upon completion of her master’s degree, Jennifer plans to continue her career in the field drinking water research. She also looks forward to working in the development and implementation of innovative and affordable technologies for the treatment of drinking water.