Mariah Dorner receives ARCS Scholar Award

Mariah Dorner, a third year PhD Student advised by Sebastian Behrens, received the Minnesota ARCS Scholar Award for the academic years of 2021-2023. Presentations were made at the Scholar Award Reception held virtually October 28, 2021.

“To be recognized and welcomed into the ARCS scholar community is a huge honor,” said Dorner. “It’s validating to be recognized for my work as a student, and the support that the ARCS Foundation provides goes beyond the financial award. I am excited to continue developing a relationship with the ARCS Foundation and to see where this scholarship takes me and my work.” 

As a graduate research assistant in the Behrens Lab, Dorner is investigating the effect of biochar on nutrient removal and contaminant degradation processes in activated sludge systems. Biochar is a carbonaceous solid produced by thermal decomposition of organic biomass under low oxygen conditions and has gained a lot of attention because of its sorptive and electron-shuttling properties that can enhance microbial transformation processes. Her experiments involve the operation of bench-scale sequencing batch reactors amended with biochar, chemical analyses of water quality parameters, and the structural and functional characterization of microbial communities.

Dorner’s current focus is on evaluating the effects of biochar on microbial nutrient removal in wastewater bioreactors. Because previous research has shown biochar to enhance degradation of toxic chlorinated pollutants, she also plans to expand her work to elucidate the effects of biochar on the degradation and fate of contaminants of emerging concern that enter wastewater treatment systems.

ARCS Foundation Scholar Awards are presented each October, and provide Scholars with $5,000 per year, for two to three years depending on the specific Award mechanism. The Minnesota Chapter of ARCS Foundation supports scholars from the University of Minnesota. Scholars are selected by their school and must meet ARCS Foundation’s high standards of academic excellence.