Alexander Schopf is enrolled in his third year of his Ph.D. in the Environmental Engineering Program under the supervision of Dr. Robert Delatolla and Dr. Kathlyn Kirkwood. He obtained a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Ottawa in 2012.

Research Interests

The presence of heavy metals, such as copper can be a significant hurdle in the biological treatment of ammonia (NH3/NH4+) in industrial wastewaters such as mining wastewater. Likewise, recent regulations and increasing populations have made the treatment of ammonia from municipal wastewaters a priority. Therefore, finding new applications for, and the optimization of, existing technologies such as nitrifying biofilm systems, as well as developing modern approaches for achieving ammonia removal such as deammonification, are the primary focuses of Alexander’s research. Alexander aims to use the moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR) technology as a method to; remove ammonia in the presence of copper using biological nitrification; optimize the nitrifying MBBR system configuration through the comparison of a single reactor system to two reactors in series at various loading rates and design parameters; and solidify a novel method of achieving partial nitrification through the use of high ammonia loading rate. By analyzing the nitrification kinetics, and biofilm characteristics, such as biofilm thickness, mass, and morphology, Alexander will demonstrate the practical abilities of the systems and justify the results via cell viability analysis, showing the relative viability of the cells on the biofilm, and through gene sequencing, which provides bacterial communities and population shifts.  His work will allow for the design and optimization of ammonia treatment systems while providing costs saving and improved treatment efficiency.

Program Goals

  • Increase understanding of the microbiome and how the biofilm microbiome impacts and influences kinetics
  • Education in biological analysis techniques such as genomics
  • Develop the skills necessary to properly communicate scientific knowledge in the form of articles, reports, and presentations
  • Apply engineering knowledge in practice, design and troubleshooting