Graduate Student Researchers

Tatiana Guarin

Tatiana Guarin

tguarin@nevada.unr.edu  
Adviser: Krishna Pagilla
Research Areas: Water treatment, wastewater treatment and reuse, microbiology

I am a doctoral student in the environmental engineering program at the University of Nevada, Reno. I got my B.Sc. degree in civil engineering from Universidad Industrial de Santander in Colombia. I also have a specialization degree in water resources and environment from the Escuela Colombiana de Ingenieria Julio Garavito. I have had the great opportunity to participate in both fieldwork and research in the lab during my Ph.D. studies. I have been working as an operator for a pilot biological treatment unit in Spanish Springs over the past eight months. In this project, we are targeting to remove nitrates and arsenic from groundwater so that it can be utilized for potable purposes. My research in the lab focuses on the implementation of a membrane-free (ozone/Biofiltration) treatment step for water potable reuse. We will be conducting bench-scale experiments to assess the microbial community shifts and the ozonation impact on the microorganisms.


Laura Haak

Laura Haak

lhaak@nevada.unr.edu  
Adviser: Krishna Pagilla
Research Areas: Environmental Engineering & NWIC

Laura is a Ph.D. student in Environmental Engineering. She completed her M.S in Environmental engineering and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology. At the University of Nevada, Reno, Laura has been able to pursue her research interests related to sustainable water resource management. Current research areas include the development of holistic water management decision making approaches and evaluation of water resource vulnerability.


Libby McKenna

Libby McKenna

libbydmckenna@gmail.com
Adviser: David Hanigan
Research Areas: Environmental Engineering & NWIC

I wanted to study water and wastewater treatment because of its implications for communities I care about, from disenfranchised urban populations to my birth country of Nepal. As I researched water-based projects with humanitarian organizations, I realized I needed more than just a bachelor's in chemistry. I was drawn to the University of Nevada, Reno for its water and wastewater treatment courses and variety of research. As I pursue a M.S. in civil and environmental engineering, I am researching disinfection by-products in reclaimed water.


Lin Li

Lin Li

lli234@nevada.unr.edu  
Adviser: Krishna Pagilla
Research Areas: Environmental Engineering & NWIC

I graduated from East China University of Science and Technology with a master's degree and joined the University of Nevada, Reno in a Ph.D. program. There are a lot of hands-on research opportunities. Professors here always inspire our potentials in innovative studies. I hope I could be a talented and dependable environmental engineer/scientist when I graduate. We treat and purify water on the planet Earth and I am so proud of that.


Kyle Pierce

Block N

kdpierce@nevada.unr.edu
Adviser: Krishna Pagilla
Research Areas: Water reuse and wastewater treatment

I started at the University of Nevada, Reno in 2013 as an undergraduate in environmental engineering. I loved the program and all that I did so much that I decided to stay at the University and complete my master's. I started my master's in the spring of 2018 and will graduate in the spring of 2019.

I am currently working on a USDA project that is addressing human health impacts from emerging contaminants in reclaimed water used for urban and pre-urban agriculture. My part in this project is to try and remove pharmaceuticals and personal care products and total organic carbon from the wastewater using coagulation and flocculation.


Andrew Poustie

Andrew Poustie

apoustie4@gmail.com
Adviser: David Hanigan
Research Areas: Environmental Engineering & NWIC

I came to Reno in Fall 2012 from Melbourne, Australia as a student-athlete to pursue a B.S. in civil engineering and to play for the University's NCAA Division 1 Men's Tennis Team. I began an M.S. in environmental Engineering in Spring 2017. I'm currently investigating trace contaminants (NDMA and PPCPs) in reclaimed water and vegetable tissue using mass spectrometry. I am passionate about water conservation and sustainability using existing infrastructure and treatment technologies.


Priyamvada Sharma

Priyamvada Sharma

priyamsharma@nevada.unr.edu
Adviser: David Hanigan
Research Areas: Environmental Engineering & NWIC

I'm native to Delhi, India, where residents near my home align themselves in a queue at a nearby tap to store the drinking water, supplied by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. People suffer from scarcity of water due to water table depletion and dwindling supplies of water by the government. Water scarcity and water quality issues in my hometown inspired me to study about wastewater treatment and its reuse. I came to the U.S to pursue my masters and later worked in an environmental consulting firm in the field of biodegradation, transport and fate of contaminants in all different media — soil, air and water. My desire to learn more in the field of wastewater treatment and its reuse, lead me to the University of Nevada, Reno. Currently, I'm pursuing a Ph.D. and believe the University is a perfect place for me to conduct research and learn more about the wastewater treatment and its reuse applications. When I graduate, I would like to work for a consulting firm to find solutions for the plethora of existing problems.


Ustav Thapa

Ustav Thapa

ustav.thapa@nevada.unr.edu
Adviser: David Hanigan
Research Areas: Water quality and conservation

I am Utsav Thapa, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. I am from Nepal, a country with mountains, hills, and rivers. Since childhood, I was always fascinated by the flowing water from the snow-capped mountains to the rivers and the water tank in my town. I completed a bachelor of agricultural engineering from Tribhuwan University, Nepal and worked for a consulting company for four years. I got an opportunity to enroll in a master's of agricultural and biosystems engineering from South Dakota State University, South Dakota, USA. As a graduate research assistant, I worked on a project related to my area of interest. I worked on a water quality project that uses effective and low-cost techniques to remove nitrate-N and dissolved phosphorus from the subsurface drainage water. I used woodchips bioreactors and metal shavings to remove the nutrients loads in the water. This experience of research provides me with great insight into water quality and its management in the USA, especially the hypoxia zone in the Gulf of Mexico. After I completed my master's, I was in search of an innovative and exciting study in the field of water quality at various universities. My search end at the University of Nevada, Reno with Dr. Hanigan's research group. I am currently working on removing pharmaceuticals from the human urine using waterless urinals sealants. The removal of pharmaceuticals from the urine will potentially reduce pharmaceuticals loads in the wastewater and conserve water quality.


Sandeep Yanala

Sandeep Yanala in an environmental engineering lab

syanala@nevada.unr.edu
Adviser: Krishna Pagilla
Research Areas: Wastewater treatment, wastewater reuse

Sandeep joined the University as a Ph.D. student in spring 2018, studying the removal of PPCPs from wastewater using adsorption and advanced oxidation techniques. Sandeep completed his undergraduate studies from NIT Warangal and graduate studies from IIT Delhi in India. He worked on turn key projects of building wastewater treatment plants for 2 years as an employee of L&T's water division in India. His work turned into his passion and made him to go in deep research on wastewater treatment technologies. After earning his Ph.D., he hopes to go back and serve his country by trying to encourage wastewater reuse through technology and reducing daily water demand.