Mike Kilmer and Gianna Makler join MEERG

on February 16, 2016

Before I started at Temple, I had grand notions of assembling an amazing recruitment machine to attract students to work in my blossoming research lab.  In my pre-job era, my plan was to recruit the perfect student by advertising and by using my network, and in some dark corner of my mind, I was afraid that my recruitment efforts would be so successful that I would be overwhelmed with applicants. . .  and then I actually started my job and became engrossed in all the other components of starting a life in a new location (e.g., buying a house and finding friends), teaching a new class, and integrating myself into the Temple CEE department. The rest of life got in the way, and I completely neglected student recruitment.   

In spite of my personal short-comings in outreach and student recruitment, two wonderful students fell into my lap, and in January 2016, Mike (Ph.D. student) and Gianna (UG) joined MEERG.  Mike and Gianna are both featured on the “About” page, but I want to tell you a different side of the story.  Mike completed his B.S. at Penn State and completed UG research using computational chemistry to investigate hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). Gianna is a Temple CEE ungraduated with an emphasis in environmental engineering (alas, she was one year too early to join our new environmental engineering undergraduate major). Both are committed to science and are very enthusiastic about research, but neither has a lot of laboratory research experience.  They are now diving into the deep end and are setting up a 1-D column study to monitor food coloring and salt breakthrough.  The fun part will be interacting with them as they experience the voyage that is experimental design, supplies acquisition, analytical approaches for the two solutes (conductivity for salt, and UV-Vis for food coloring), and data processing.  Check back for a later post where I will share the time-lapse video as an illustration of the fate and transport research that MEERG conducts.

admin_mkMike Kilmer and Gianna Makler join MEERG

MEERG has a new lab space

on February 16, 2016

Step one to being a successful academic is getting the job.  Much to my delight, I was able to check that one off the list when I joined the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA in January 2015.  Step number two, if you are an experimentalist, is to have a physical lab space. . . and on that front, there was a little bit of a delay.  However, as of December 2015, the McKenzie Environmental Engineering Group (MEERG) has a place to call home as a result of renovating a former graduate student office space (sorry grad students) and turning into my laboratory space.  One bonus in the delay – I was able to play a role in the layout of the lab.  My research focuses on evaluated physicochemical processes that impact contaminant fate and transport, meaning that MEERG has to measure very low concentrations (e.g., parts per trillion).  Dust is the enemy in this endeavor, as is contains not only major crustal elements (e.g., Si, Na, Fe, Ca, Al, K, Mg), but also can have metals and organic compounds adhering to the dust surface.  Luckily, by playing a role in the lab design, the TU College of Engineering and I were able to implement a couple physical barriers to limit the amount of dust that will get into the lab space: a vestibuled entry, low-dust tiles, and a smaller room to house the inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS).  Now I am onto the later steps of becoming a successful academic – recruiting high quality students (see next post!), writing proposals that will be funded, and producing important research.

admin_mkMEERG has a new lab space