Alexandra Tsitouras is in her second year of the University of Ottawa’s Ph.D. Program in Environmental Engineering under the supervision of Prof. Robert Delatolla and Prof. Alain Stintzi. She obtained a B.Sc. in Life Sciences with first class honors, specializing in Microbiology and Molecular Biotechnology at McGill University in 2014.
Biofilms have been applied to wastewater treatment systems to allow for improved removal efficiencies, resulting in lower energy consumption and smaller land requirements. These technologies are in line with current wastewater treatment goals that have moved from simply treating solids and organics according to effluent regulations, to designing sustainable systems that also treat nutrients with minimal energy consumption. Nutrient removal, however, requires the control of specialized microbial communities, which is particularly challenging in biofilms, where space limitations increase the effects of competition. This study aims to design a biofilm system that treats carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorous in a moving-bed biofilm reactor, and to study the effects of operational conditions on the microbiome through microscopic techniques, and illumina sequencing of the 16S gene. This information will allow for an improved understanding of microbial communities in multi-species biofilms, and form links between engineering systems and microbial information to allow for improved design.
- Apply emerging technologies in the field of microbiome analysis to the field of environmental engineering.
- Learn techniques that can be applied to a career in environmental engineering that is becoming increasingly multi-disciplinary.
- Develop professional networking and communication skills
- Interact with individuals in diverse fields to expand my knowledge, and improve as a researcher overall.