Maggie Carolan

Maggie Carolan, Ph.D. student, Sustainable Water Development

Purifies drinking water


What is your degree program and expected graduation date? PhD, Sustainable Water Development, May 2022

Please describe your research: I design functionalized nanofiber materials to remove uranium from ground and surface water for application in treatment and sensing devices. Ultimately, I hope to expand my focus to capturing a range of contaminants beyond uranium for incorporation into point of entry or point of use drinking water treatment technology.

In simple terms, why does this research matter? In resource-constrained regions with a legacy of uranium mining, like the Navajo Nation, health impacts from elevated uranium levels in drinking water sources persist today, many years after mines have closed. Rapid detection and treatment of uranium is critical for combating the effects of chronic environmental exposure.

How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I immediately started my research after beginning my first semester at Iowa.

How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Research galvanizes my interest in my coursework subject matter and gives me a sense of purpose as a student. I appreciate the interdisciplinary framework of the Sustainable Water Development program to help me investigate new questions about my current research and provide opportunities outside of the lab and classroom to interrogate environmental issues in Iowa and around the world.

What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? After finishing my doctorate, I aspire to begin a path to enter the environmental engineering professoriate. I care deeply about effective science communication to combat misinformation about water, health, and the environment for the public good. The possibilities of building a research lab to harness scientific resources to recognize and remediate drinking water issues in frontline environmental justice communities in the United States and training students from diverse backgrounds inspire me to hopefully pursue an academic career.

Faculty mentor/advisor: Dr. David Cwiertny (CEE) and Dr. Tori Forbes (Chemistry)

Hometown: Stafford, Virginia



Banner location: University Capitol Centre—