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McMillan receives inaugural Haas fellowship

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Sara McMillan, assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering, has been named to receive the first Violet B. Haas Fellowship. The fellowship provides McMillan with $5,000 to support her research on green infrastructure in urban watersheds.

The late Violet Haas was a Purdue professor of electrical engineering from 1962 to 1986. She worked in the areas of optimal control, nonlinear control and optimal estimation. As an advocate for women in engineering, she encouraged future generations of female students to pursue the discipline. The fellowship named for her will be given annually to a woman who is also a mother, and is serving in a pre-tenured faculty position in engineering or science.

McMillan and her students study biogeochemistry and water quality of aquatic ecosystems with an emphasis on the interactions between hydrology and nutrient and carbon transformations. The research centers on the sustainability of healthy ecosystems and restoring ecosystem functions of streams and wetlands. Current research projects include:

  • Understanding and predicting the cumulative effects of stormwater BMPs on urban stream ecosystem function at multiple spatial and temporal scales.
  • Investigating the factors that control rates of denitrification in restored and degraded urban streams, particularly the extent to which variability can be explained by environmental conditions and the genetic structure of bacterial communities.
  • Understanding the effects of stream restoration techniques on ecosystem function, specifically biological integrity, nutrient processing and ecosystem metabolism.
  • Developing and applying quantitative modeling approaches to better understand the complex interactions in environmental systems and develop solutions to advance the science of ecosystem restoration.