IIT Researchers Win American Academy of Environmental Engineering and Science Honor Award

Illinois Institute of Technology researchers Krishna Pagilla, professor of environmental engineering, Benjamin Stark, professor of biology, and graduate students Marina Arnaldos (Ph.D. ENVE ’12) and Stephanie Kunkel (BIOL) were awarded the Honor Award for University Research by the American Academy of Environmental Engineering and Scientists (AAEES) for their research, “Improving Energy Sustainability of Wastewater Treatment by Low DO Nitrification Process.”

Their ongoing research aims to identify the occurrence of hemoglobin (Hb) expressing bacteria in biological wastewater treatment systems and investigate and promote their dominance to improve oxygen utilization under low dissolved oxygen (DO) conditions. The outcomes will significantly reduce the aeration/energy needs of wastewater treatment plants and their carbon footprints. The paper that describes this work, “Enhanced Heme Protein Expression by Ammonia-Oxidizing Communities Acclimated to Low Dissolved Oxygen Conditions” was recently published in the journal Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology.

The criteria to receive the AAEES Award were that the research must provide a holistic environmental perspective, be innovative, and contribute to an improved quality of life and economic efficiency. The winning researchers “address the broad range of modern challenges inherent in providing life-nurturing services for humans and protection of the environment.” They were chosen by an independent panel of distinguished experts.

The awards will be announced and presented at the Academy’s Annual Awards Luncheon in Washington, DC, on April 25.