student's research could help develop new environmentally friendly water decontamination techniques

A picture of Neerja Zambare in the lab. Her research could help develop environmentally friendly techniques of selenium remediation.
Neerja Zambare's research could help develop environmentally friendly techniques of selenium remediation.

Neerja Zambare is a doctoral student at Montana State University where she studies Chemical Engineering. Zambare’s passion for research really began to develop during her sophomore year as an undergraduate student at MSU.

“I got involved in research at the Center for Biofilm Engineering at MSU,” said Zambare.

“I developed a very strong interest for research that helped me decide on doing a Ph.D. in the same field as my undergraduate research, which was biomineralization.”

With assistance from the Montana Water Center, Zambare’s research is focused on the precipitation of calcium carbonate, brought about by the activity of a bacterium commonly found in soil. Heavy metals, which can contaminate ground water, have known to “co-precipitate” along with calcium carbonate.

Zambare is testing whether this bacteria can be used to remove aqueous selenium in the calcium carbonate that they help form. Zambare’s research is important because Selenium can contaminate groundwater through mine tailings exposed to water. The chemical process to do this has been studied before. However, since the bacteria Zambare is studying are non-pathogenic and are commonly found in soil, her research could help develop environmentally friendly techniques of selenium remediation.

Zambare loves conducting research and wants to continue with it after she graduates.

“I am passionate about science outreach and teaching. I imagine myself working in an environmental research lab and also being involved in college level teaching.”