Kara Nelson, Professor

Closed (1) Microbial Impacts of Transitioning to Direct Potable Reuse Water Systems

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Direct potable reuse is a form of wastewater reuse where advanced-treated wastewater is introduced directly to the drinking water distribution system. Bench-scale reactors will be used to simulate drinking water distribution system pipes before and during the transition to direct potable reuse conditions. Microbial water quality parameters will be analyzed to determine microbial impacts during the short time span after transitioning pipes to advanced treated wastewater.

The undergraduate researcher will be given the tasks of 1) generating a standardized protocol to condition advanced treated wastewater to match the pH and chlorine levels of Berkeley tap water at the lab scale and 2) transition one bench-scale reactor to condition advanced treated wastewater and monitor cell counts over 3-4 weeks. They will be responsible for generating a lab protocol, an experimental plan, and a final report with analyzed data.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Hannah Greenwald, Graduate Student

Qualifications: The undergraduate researcher should be proficient in flow cytometry and ATP analysis. Some aspects of this work will be on campus.

Weekly Hours: 9-11 hrs

Off-Campus Research Site: Some aspects of the work will be on campus.

Related website: https://ce.berkeley.edu/people/faculty/nelson/research

Closed (2) Wastewater monitoring for SARS-CoV-2 in California

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Wastewater contains the RNA signal of SARS-CoV-2 and concentrations indicate the occurrence of COVID-19 infections in the community. The wastewater testing lab at UC Berkeley receives wastewater samples from around California and quantifies SARS-CoV-2 over space and time. Specific variants of SARS-CoV-2 are also being tracked. The data are used to inform public health decision-making improve pandemic response.

Contributing the shipping of empty sample tubes to wastewater utilities
Preparing buffers and reagents for use in RNA extraction
Sample labeling and tracking
RNA extraction from wastewater
Running PCR assays to quantify SARS-CoV-2
Data analysis and quality control
Learning outcomes: logistics management, communication skills, networking with wastewater water utilities, statistical analysis, application of wastewater based epidemiology

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Rose Kantor, Staff Researcher

Qualifications: An interest in wastewater-based epidemiology, have taken introductory science courses.

Weekly Hours: 6-8 hrs

Related website: https://www.covid-web.org/