PhD student Cassandra Champagne has been selected by the Environmental Research and Education Foundation (EREF) to receive the Fiessinger Doctoral Scholarship.
This scholarship recognizes one doctoral student each year working at the forefront of the waste management and engineering field. The winner is selected from an international pool of applicants.
Champagne’s research centers on sustainability and resiliency in the geoenvironmental engineering field and the solid waste industry. This scholarship will support her research on improving the quality and efficiency of landfill monitoring using autonomous robotics technology. Robots and drones equipped with optical cameras, infrared cameras and gas sensors ca be deployed at landfills to generate 3D models for slope stability and settlement analyses, and to generate spatially resolved methane concentration maps for emissions estimations and “hotspot” detection.
Methane is 23 times more reactive in the ozone than carbon dioxide, so locating gas leaks and minimizing the amount of methane released into the environment can have a positive impact on global warming. Apart from being an environmental concern, methane release into the atmosphere also represents lost energy and, therefore, lost profits. With her research, Champagne hopes to help push the solid waste industry toward bioreactor landfills, which maximize methane production for energy generation, thus transforming solid waste from a byproduct to a continuous energy source, while also diverting harmful methane emissions from the ozone.
Champagne is advised by Associate Professor Dimitrios Zekkos.