Environmental Engineering PhD student Dianna Kitt has received a Ford Foundation 2021 Predoctoral Fellowship from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. The fellowship provides three years of financial support for graduate students working towards a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of Science (ScD) degree.
The award honors students who “have demonstrated superior academic achievement, are committed to a career in teaching and research at the college or university level in the U.S., show promise of future achievement as scholars and teachers, and are well prepared to use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students,” according to the National Academies website.
Kitt holds a BSE in Environmental Engineering from the University of Delaware and a MSE in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Her PhD research focuses on the recovery of valuable products from waste streams using anaerobic bioprocesses and utilizing interdisciplinary biotechnology, microbial community analysis and mathematical modeling approaches to better understand and manipulate the microbial communities responsible for product recovery.
Kitt’s dissertation explores how platform chemicals can be recovered through anaerobic treatment of organic waste streams. She is particularly interested in identifying waste streams that so far have not been used for product recovery. She plans to develop novel bioreactor systems for resource recovery, and to integrate microbial community network modeling with process engineering to optimize bioreactor performance.
“I was very pleased to learn Dianna was selected to receive a Ford Foundation Fellowship,” wrote Kitt’s advisor, Vernon L. Snoeyink Distinguished University Professor Lut Raskin. “This award recognizes her impressive academic performance so far, her leadership potential and her outstanding promise as a future faculty member.”
Through its Fellowship Programs, the Ford Foundation recognizes students who have demonstrated sustained personal investment in underrepresented communities and who use this experience to enhance their teaching and scholarship.
Kitt is one of approximately 70 graduate students to receive a 2021 predoctoral fellowship. In addition to an annual stipend, awardees are invited to the annual Conference of Ford Fellows and are connected with a network of former Ford Fellow mentors.