Qi Erica Wang

Environmental and Ecological Engineering sophomore Qi Erica Wang hasn’t wasted any time starting her career as a water safety specialist. She jumped right into research as a freshman, and this summer will present in Denver at the national conference of the American Water Works Association (AWWA).

Wang was selected by the Indiana Section of AWWA to represent drinking water professionals from the State of Indiana at the conference. She also received the AWWA Besozzi Youth Delegate Grant, a travel grant. She will participate in the conference’s scientific poster competition.

As a freshman, Wang was already preparing for graduate school. She went through EEE faculty list to study research interests and seek out an undergraduate research opportunity. She was drawn to research conducted by Andrew Whelton, an associate professor in Environmental and Ecological Engineering and at the Lyles School of Civil Engineering.

Wang worked with the Whelton Research Group on two projects during Summer 2018. She sampled and analyzed drinking water at a nearby Net Zero-energy residence—the ReNEWW House living laboratory project headed by Eckhard Groll, the Reilly Professor of Mechanical Engineering and associate Engineering dean for Undergraduate and Graduate Education—-and at a local LEED middle school.

Wang also conducted her own bench-scale study about heavy metal deposition on pipes and found that heavy metals like lead and copper can leach from brass fittings and deposit onto two types of plastic drinking water pipes-- crosslinked polyethylene or PEX and chlorinated polyvinylchloride or CPVC—that are nearly ubiquitous in today’s buildings. She presented the results at the Indiana Section AWWA conference in January.

The native of Columbus, Ohio, has continued to work in Whelton’s lab through the 2018-19 academic year, with plans to pursue a master’s degree at Purdue and then go into industry. “Being surrounded by people who clearly love what they do is very influential. Conducting research has solidified my love of EEE and my resolution that I'm doing things worth doing,” Wang says.