“Megan’s work in Honduras and Nicaragua is inspirational and has a direct impact on human health for populations with severe resource constraints. Megan has positioned herself to make an impact in the developing world for years to come.” – Craig Just, associate professor, civil and environmental engineering
Hometown: Overland Park, Kansas
Faculty mentor/advisor: Craig Just, PhD, associate professor, civil and environmental engineering, College of Engineering
What is your degree program and expected graduate date? PhD in civil and environmental engineering, Sustainable Water Development Program. December 2022.
Please describe your research: I work to evaluate and improve drinking water treatment systems in rural Central America. Specifically, we partner with a local NGO that installs chlorinators, which add chlorine to rural water systems to help eliminate waterborne disease. We assess how well these systems are providing chlorinated drinking water and use water quality sensors to remotely monitor performance. These sensors can help indicate to local technicians when system failures may be occurring so that they can more easily and efficiently maintain safe drinking water across rural communities.
In simple terms, why does this research matter? Access to safe drinking water is critical for eliminating exposure to waterborne disease. Progress towards improving access remains challenging and slow. Over 2 billion people remain without access to safely managed drinking water, and this disproportionately negatively impacts children. Chlorination is one option for removing waterborne disease from drinking water and therefore improving access to chlorination and improving our ability to monitor effectiveness of chlorination systems is a significant opportunity to increase access to safe drinking water.
How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I was very lucky to get to spend the summer before classes started diving into research. So, in many ways I was able to begin research my very first day on this campus.
How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Research is a critical component to my degree. Through research, I have advanced an exciting partnership with an International NGO. I have met so many incredible people and researchers alike, both on and off campus. I have had the opportunity to travel to three countries. And I have utilized the astounding resources available for research here on campus, particularly IIHR’s research shop services have been invaluable.
What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? I am currently seeking postdoctoral research positions, in related fields. But broadly speaking I hope to position myself as a researcher with the skills necessary to continue to solve challenging issues related to drinking water. The world around us is changing rapidly. In the face of seemingly intractable challenges like aging infrastructure and a changing climate, unsafe drinking water will continue to impact more and more people all over the world, both in seemingly faraway places and right here in Iowa. I hope that I will be able to combine the technical and research skills I have gained here at Iowa, through my PhD program, and apply them to reduce the number of people around the world with unsafe drinking water.
Banner location: Downtown—Washington St., across from Iowa Chop House