Pollution Processing by Vegetation: Protecting Water, Food, and Environmental Quality
Claire Muerdter is a fourth-year PhD student in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Iowa. She has always loved plants and been interested in environmental issues, two topics which she is able to combine in her current work on vegetation uptake and processing of pollutants. She became intrigued with biological research in high school and has pursued research opportunities since then, eventually leading to graduate school. Undergraduate research on a toxic alga, Ecuadorian dung beetles, and cell-cell adhesion in embryonic development whetted her scholastic appetite. Her master’s work on vegetation selection for rain gardens aimed to improve nitrogen and phosphorus removal from stormwater, preventing nutrient pollution in natural waters like the Chesapeake Bay. Her current work will inform pollution removal, water quality, and food safety through natural vegetative treatments. After graduation, she aims to conduct research on non-edible plant feedstocks for biofuels, to contribute more directly to the fight against climate change. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors; cooking; and going on adventures with her husband, family, and friends. She is looking forward to becoming a mom in early 2020.