Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Fulbright researcher tackles nitrogen run-off

2013 Fulbright scholar David Zweig, 22, from Fayetteville, Arkansas will spend this year studying nitrogen run-off at the University of Waikato.

Under the guidance of Professor Louis Schipper, Zweig is researching the effect of temperature on the efficiency of denitrification bioreactors for agricultural effluent, which is essentially looking at biological methods to decrease the amount of nitrogen entering waterways from farm run-off.

"It's a big issue for New Zealand and the US," Zweig said.

"A lot of nitrogen ends up in waterways and that can cause algal blooms. This project looks at denitrification beds."

The beds help convert the nitrogen into a harmless gas which is released into the atmosphere, rather than into waterways.

Zweig has been in Hamilton since the start of the year and said he's been doing plenty of reading to get up to speed with the work he'll be doing, which includes regular field trips to denitrification beds around the region.

He said it was a long process to get accepted into the Fulbright programme and finally begin his studies.

"I spoke to lecturers at the University of Georgia and they had contacts down here and that's how I got in contact with Professor Schipper and that was great.
"I had to submit a study proposal and went to an interview. I submitted my application in October 2011 and found out I'd been accepted in May 2012 and now I'm finally here."

His work at the University of Waikato will go towards a Post Graduate Certificate in Earth Sciences but he thinks his future lies in business applications using his science knowledge.

"I'm not cut out to be a lab guy but my background in science should help my entrepreneurial side too," he said.

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