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NanoEarth Training Gets Doctoral Student Deeper into Water Research

Mark River is a Ph.D. candidate at the Nicholas School of the Environment working in the Duke University Wetland Center. For his dissertation research on how phosphorus is transported by particles in stormwater, he wanted to tap into the resources at Virginia Tech’s National Center for Earth and Environmental Nanotechnology Infrastructure (NanoEarth).

River was among 19 Duke students who received Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants (GSTEG) in 2016-17 for training beyond their core disciplines. His faculty mentor was Curtis J. Richardson. He shared a quick update on his experience:

I traveled to Virginia Tech and learned hands-on transmission electron microscopy (TEM) on two different instruments: elemental analysis using Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS); and High Angle Annular Dark Field (HAADF) and Electron Energy Loss Spectrometry (EELS). I learned a lot about these high-tech tools, which I had no exposure to previously. Using the data I obtained in the two full days at Virginia Tech, I am working towards a nice publication that I would not otherwise have the data for.

Last month River and Duke alumnus Scott Winton published a study in Water Research on the transport of phosphorus and nitrogen into surface waters from seagulls at landfills.

Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants are intended to deepen preparation for academic positions and other career trajectories. This internal funding mechanism from the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies encourages graduate students to step away from their core research and training to acquire skills, knowledge or co-curricular experiences that will give them new perspectives on their research agendas.

See who received these grants for 2017-18, and read about other 2016-17 recipients’ experiences:

Image: Mark River and examples of data stemming from his Virginia Tech training