Dr. Ellen Lauchnor, recipient of the Montana Water Center’s 2015 Faculty Seed Grant, is providing new solutions for improving water quality throughout Montana. Currently serving as assistant professor of Civil Engineering at Montana State University, Dr. Lauchnor’s research aims to improve state-wide water quality by incorporating biofilm engineering into wastewater treatment plant design and operation.
In wastewater treatment plants, microorganisms degrade waste products in the wastewater that we generate, allowing clean water to be returned to nearby rivers and streams. Some of the waste contains nitrogen compounds, which are essential nutrients but can be harmful to humans and aquatic life if too much is released into surface water.
“Many wastewater treatment plants in Montana are not currently able to remove enough of these nitrogen compounds from their wastewater to meet regulatory requirements,” said Dr. Lauchnor.