CEAS Alumna Receives AWWA Best Thesis Award

By: Shannon Frohme
Date: April 5, 2016

CEAS alumna, Jennifer Liggett, takes home the 2016 American Water Works Association (AWWA) academic achievement award for best master’s thesis.

Jennifer Liggett

Liggett received high praise for her master’s thesis presentation on rising pH and corrosion levels in plumbing structures that are brought on by today’s changing levels of water quality. The AWWA best master’s thesis award recognizes academic excellence by recognizing contributions to the field of public water supply and includes a monetary prize, a plaque, and recognition at the 2016 AWWA Annual Conference and Exposition on June 20, 2016.

Liggett received her BS in environmental studies in 2008 and MS in environmental science in 2015 from the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) Department of Biomedical, Chemical & Environmental Engineering (BCEE).

According to Liggett, her research is relevant for anyone who consumes water from their house faucets or public water utilities. She elaborates, “Diffusion models are used by drinking water distribution systems to measure disinfection within the system. Across the country, water utilities use various water sources for consumption purposes. My research helped further the understanding of the changes in water quality levels due to corrosion within plumbing systems, and also the effects that pH and corrosion inhibitors can have on these pipes.”

Her experience at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Cincinnati in the US-EPA traineeship program laid the groundwork to conduct her master’s research on microelectrode investigations of drinking water. At USEPA, her research was completed under the guidance of thesis committee members Drs. Darren Lytle, Jonathan Pressman and Davis Wahman. Liggett’s committee members at CEAS included BCEE professors Dionysios Dionysiou, PhD, and George Sorial, PhD and BCEE Department Head.

Currently, Liggett works as an environmental scientist for the Intelligent Water Solutions section of Water Business Group at CH2M in Denver, Colorado. CH2M is an environmental and engineering consulting company.

As an environmental scientist for CH2M, she conducts and aides in the completion of several projects including collaboration with the USEPA. Additional collaboration projects include working with the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, as well as consulting clients on the vast array of available technologies that support online water quality monitoring within water distribution systems. 

“Although I am no longer in a research capacity, at CH2M, I am able to use the information and knowledge I’ve gained in my years as a researcher to help clients in the water industry. I have been tasked with helping develop sampling protocols for clients and used my experience to help select online water quality monitoring systems for water utilities around the globe. The best part of my job is that I help people have access to safe, clean drinking water,” says Liggett.

Liggett receives the 2014 Holly A. Cornell Scholarship at AWAA's ACE in Boston, MA.

Liggett receives the 2014 Holly A. Cornell Scholarship at AWAA's ACE in Boston, MA.

In 2014, Liggett received the 2014 Holly A. Cornell Scholarship sponsored by CH2M. This scholarship encourages and supports outstanding female masters’ students in pursuit of advanced training in the field of water supply and treatment.

Liggett concludes, “AWWA is an exceptional resource and organization to be involved with and I strongly encourage any student interested in a career in the water industry to become a member. My UC advisor, Dr. Dionysiou, was instrumental in connecting and encouraging me and his other students to be involved with professional organizations such as AWWA and to be active in the pursuit of a career. Be that from involvement in professional organizations, application to awards, attending conferences, or publishing research. I can say without any hesitation that I would not have had the opportunities presented to me without the traineeship and the guidance, support and encouragement of my mentors and thesis committee at CEAS and Andrew Breidenbach Environmental Research Center.”