Research in Focus

Advancing Science, Innovating Technology, Making an Impact

Detecting Pathogens in Wastewater

PROFESSOR JENNIFER WEIDHAAS: “When you think about people’s lives there are only a few things they absolutely need to survive, and water is one of them. It is my hope that the research we do will help improve people’s lives, and lead to healthier lifespans. All our work will be worth it if we just provide a small piece to the puzzle.” Professor Weidhaas’s research focuses on improving water quality, with an emphasis on untreated wastewater. She is working on developing new techniques and technologies for detecting and tracking pathogens within water systems, and finding and fixing the source of pollution to improve overall water quality. “Water security in the 21st century is going to take a significant investment in brainpower. The problems aren’t insurmountable, but there needs to be a sea change in public awareness and consciousness when it comes to water issues.”

Climate and Water Security

PROFESSOR COURT STRONG: "I am a climate modeler, and the focus of my work is to develop a system that can predict with greater accuracy what our atmospheric conditions will be in the future." Professor Strong's research is directed towards creating a climate model with a higher resolution that can better reflect the impact of local topography on a region's climate. "Most climate models use a 200 kilometer matrix. That scale can't take into account the influence of regional landforms on climate." Professor Strong is also interested in creating systems that can better predict future trends in precipitation, floods, and droughts. "Water security is one of the least understood aspects of global climate research."

Innovations in Portable Water Purification

PROFESSOR KRISTA CARLESON: "The technology I am helping to develop is a device that offers an inexpensive, filterless, and portable means of purifying water." Professor Carleson's research has been funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation, and has resulted in a patented device that can be utilized to purify water in remote and isolated communities, or in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Her work is also driven by a commitment to reduce the amount of water pollution and waste that is generated by industrial research. "There needs to be a paradigm shift in the way industry looks at water pollution."

Finding a Solution to Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in Water

PROFESSOR RAMESH GOEL: One of the greatest advancements in modern medicine was the development of antibiotic drugs. These medicines have saved millions of lives. The problem is these once “miracle” drugs are becoming less effective as strains of bacteria are growing resistant. University of Utah Professor Ramesh Goel is dedicating himself to helping solve this problem.” Professor Goel and his students are working on the next generation of technology to detect, contain, and ultimately disinfect water contaminated with this resistant bacteria. His lab’s research is investigating the effects of different dose levels of chlorine, ultraviolet radiation, and monochloramine. The lab is also studying the efficacy of electrochemical methods of treating contaminated water. “Our goal is the help safeguard the health of people around the world,” Professor Goel explains. “Our research is directly related to people’s health.”