Dr. Kurwadkar’s research interests are in the broadly defined area of physical and chemical processes in environmental engineering. Specific examples are fate and transport of emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and insecticides in the environment; sorption and degradation kinetics of organic contaminants, water quality investigations particularly water quality impacts due to intensive animal agriculture operations and environmental regulatory issues pertaining to treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous wastes. Provided below is a brief summary of Dr. Kurwadkar’s ongoing research activities:
Pierce's Disease Control: Environmental Fate of Neonicotinoids Insecticides
Imidacloprid is a proven systemic neonicotinoid insecticide commonly used for controlling sucking insects such as glassy winged sharpshooter and for control of Pierce's disease. Since imidacloprid is fairly stable in the environment, it may pose a threat to both aquatic and terrestrial environment. Ongoing research on sorption/desorption process is important in determining the distribution of imidacloprid in soil and aqueous environments. Although, imidacloprid is in use for a while, its environmental fate is not well understood. The purpose of this research study is to investigate sorption/desorption of imidacloprid through various soil horizons. It is expected that understanding of sorption/desorption behavior will ultimately help optimize the rate of application of imidacloprid.
Plant Uptake of Antimicrobials: A Novel Remediation
Various classes of antimicrobials such as sulfonamides, macrolides, tetracycline and beta-lactums are commonly used in intensive animal agriculture. Partially metabolized antimicrobials are often detected in animal manure and also on lands that has been applied with such manure. Since antimicrobials are fairly stable towards degradation, their occurrence in the environment has become a cause of concern. Occurrence of antimicrobial may perturb ecology and may facilitate growth of antimicrobial resistant micro-organisms. This research study will focus on developing a remediation of antimicrobial contaminated lands using selected plant species. Two different varieties of plant species are currently being investigated for uptake of antimicrobials. Plant sap and soils will be analyzed for residual concentration of antimicrobials.
Environmental Occurrence of Monensin Antibiotic in the Bosque Watershed Region
This is a preliminary investigation on occurrence of monensin antibiotics in the Bosque Watershed Region. Several times-spaced samples will be collected from the Bosque Watershed Region and screened for presence of monensin antibiotic routinely used dairy operations. Monensin is routinely used in dairy operations as a feed additive to enhance feed efficiency. In large dairy operations, use of monensin is so common that the feed itself is now comes pre-mixed with monensin antibiotics. In this research study, several time-spaced surface water samples will be analyzed using Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) test. Commercially available ELISA kits will be used for investigating the presence of monensin antibiotic in the surface water samples.
Laboratory Evaluation of the Efficacy of Calcium Peroxide-Enhanced Bioremediation of Crude Oil
The objective of this research is to conduct laboratory experiments for demonstration of efficacy of calcium peroxide-enhanced bioremediation technology using the naturally occurring, commercially available bacteria consortia from different manufacturers. These proprietary products will be mixed with nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient salts and “supercharged” with a peroxide solution (PermeOx Plus®- FMC Corporation) into a solution/suspension and then applied to crude oil. Efficiency of oil remediation will be determined by representative core sampling of the water in the treated and control samples. Quantitative and qualitative determination of the petroleum components will be by GC/FID and GC/MS with enumeration of added and indigenous bacteria to monitor microbial changes.
REAL WORLD Summer Merit Program Residential Camp
In the year 2010, we had a wonderful summer camp for high school seniors. The camp was categorized in three broad engineering disciplines. At the end of the four week session, students in environmental engineering camp had prepared a poster enumerating key water treatment processes. Student’s also conducted jar tests to determine the coagulation dosages for the surface water sample they collected from the Bosque River. From recycled coke bottles they built a functional water filtration system. Students developed an understanding of water quality issues and were able to distinguish between point and non-point sources of pollution and their impact on the environment. They were able to identify major State and Federal environmental regulatory agencies’ roles and responsibilities. Students showed keen interest in emerging contaminants in the environment and their potential impact on human health and the environment. Students demonstrated excellent project planning and team organization. Dr. Kurwadkar made a timely presentation, “Crude Awakening: Big Problems” highlighting the recent BP drilling rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico to provide a timely example of the environmental impact due to anthropogenic activities.