CEE Seminar: Wastewater Treating Biofilms for Resource Efficiency and Process Resiliency

McDonnell Douglas Engineering Auditorium (MDEA)
Jeseth Delgado Vela, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Howard University

Abstract: Amid the challenges of climate change, aging infrastructure and urbanization, environmental engineers must develop an equitable, environmentally sustainable and cost-efficient urban water cycle. I will highlight results from modeling and lab scale systems showing how biofilms present an opportunity for achieving these advances. For example, our findings show that sulfide may help reduce energy requirements of nitrification (by reducing the aeration requirements) and reduce the need for external electron donors for denitrification in emerging multi-redox biofilm treatment technologies. I will also show how biofilm treatment processes may provide the potential for enhanced process resiliency due to biofilm treatment processes. By integrating modeling and experimental approaches across multiple scales, I uncover unique insights into microbial processes in our urban water system.

Bio: Jeseth Delgado Vela is an assistant professor in the civil and environmental engineering department at Howard University. Her research applies tools in molecular biology to develop sustainable and cost-efficient urban water treatment. She is interested in understanding microbial community interactions to improve the urban water cycle. She received her Ph.D. and master’s degree from the University of Michigan. She received her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the Ford Foundation Dissertation Award (2016) and was named an Early Career Research Fellow by the Gulf Research Program in 2021.