Carnegie Mellon University
March 11, 2014

Jessica Wilson Wins AWWA Award for Dissertation

Jessica Wilson Wins AWWA Award for Dissertation
CEE alum Jessica Wilson (CEE PhD ’13) has won an award for her dissertation, Challenges for Drinking Water Plants from Energy Extraction Activities from the American Water Works Association (AWWA). The award encourages academic excellence by recognizing contributions to the field of public water supply. 

During her time in CEE, Wilson explored how the disposal of water produced from development of the Marcellus Shale natural gas reservoirs impacted surface waters in the Monongahela Basin. Her work focused on increasing bromide concentrations in source waters that alter the formation of carcinogenic disinfection by-products (DBPs) in the drinking water. Wilson continues her work with DBPs at Manhattan College in New York, where she was recently appointed as an assistant professor. 

“I am very interested in linking field results with laboratory experiments and developing models to interpret this data,” Wilson explains. Through field studies and laboratory experiments, her team can help provide information to drinking water providers to reduce their DBPs. 

Currently Wilson is exploring the rate of removal of both regulated and non-regulated DBPs after certain point-of-use activities, including boiling water. This research is critical because there are so many unknowns regarding the formation and removal of DBPs in drinking water. 

Wilson was nominated for the AWWA award by her PhD advisor, Jeanne VanBriesen. “Dr. Wilson’s work was central to our understanding of how energy extraction activities can affect downstream drinking water treatment plants,” Dr. VanBriesen explained. “In response to her work, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Marcellus gas producers changed disposal methods for produced water from shale gas activities to reduce the risk to drinking water consumers. The impact of this work has been significant for Pennsylvania.” 

Wilson has been a member of AWWA since graduate school and attends local and national conferences each year. “I am very honored to have received this award,” Wilson says. “The conferences always showcase cutting edge research in drinking water treatment and operations, as well as drinking water supply.” 

Wilson will receive the award at the AWWA Annual Conference in June in Boston. The award will be formally presented during the Monday afternoon plenary session. 

“CMU, the CEE department and faculty and my advisor were all extremely supportive during my graduate studies,” Wilson says. She had the opportunity to present her work at AWWA conferences, allowing her to meet people working on drinking water issues in industry and academia. “The experiences I had during my time at CMU reinforced my desire to continue study drinking water quality.”