Kjellerup Named Inaugural Wasmer Professor in Engineering

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Birthe Kjellerup was named the A. James Clark School of Engineering's inaugural Pedro E. Wasmer Professor in Engineering. 

Kjellerup's research activity is in the biofilm area. Biofilms are a trending topic in microbiology today - a biofilm is made up of microorganisms and the "glue" that links them together, enabling them to do their job. 

"Bacteria are commonly considered free-living single cells, but most often they will band together and form a biofilm - a collection of cells held together by a tough web of fibers that offers protection from all types of threats, including antibiotics," Kjellerup said.

In her research, Kjellerup is utilizing a way to harvest the energy from wastewater via bacterial biofilms. This innovative process has the potential to supply 1-2 percent of our national power consumption every year, meaning less dependcy on "the grid" for our increasing power needs. Simultaneously, it would reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which impact climate change.

Kjellerup was awarded a four-year research project to research the application of biofilms for bioremediation of the toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in soil and sediment. PCBs have been applied for hydraulic systems and transformers, but have been shown to cause cancer, influence the immune system, and even cause fetal deformities. By using the biofilm-based approach, toxic PCBs will be removed from the environment. 

Kjellerup teaches one graduate course, ENCE 637 Biological Principles of Environmental Engineering, and will teach BioE 120 Biology for Engineers, beginning January 2016.

About the Pedro E. Wasmer Professorship

Pedro Wasmer (CEE, B.S. '62) made a gift of $500,000 to the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to establish an endowed professorship. The endowed professorship provides resources for supporting new CEE faculty members in building a strong research program in the early years of their careers.

The Clark School has benefited immensely from the many professorships created over the years by alumni and friends to honor great teachers and innovators and attract and retain more of them. An outstanding faculty makes a great difference not only in the teaching of undergraduates but also in the building of leading research programs that improve life and attract corporate and government funding-and the best graduate students. 

New professorships will help the Clark School to compete more successfully in attracting and retaining the very best researchers and teachers, with the specific goal of increasing the number of Clark School professors who are members of the National Academy of Engineering. Learn more about supporting professorships online.

Producing engineering innovations, and innovators, is where the Clark School's potential for greatness lies. Through creativity and hard work we've already achieved successes well beyond the level our resources would predict, and begun to receive the recognition of our peers. We call on those who value our work—alumni, students, faculty, partners and friends—to come forward, contribute their knowledge, energy and financial resources, and help us produce innovations and innovators that will change the world. Get involved here





Published June 30, 2015