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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Troy Resident Receives Prestigious NSF Award

March 2, 2001

Troy Resident Receives Prestigious NSF Award

Marianne Nyman's Work Could Lead to Cleaner Freshwater Lakes

Troy, N.Y. — Marianne Nyman, assistant professor of environmental and energy engineering, was awarded a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation. She is among the first Rensselaer faculty to be awarded the honor in 2001. The award is one of the NSF's most competitive and prestigious, and is given to young faculty members actively engaged in research and education.

Eight Rensselaer faculty were honored with CAREER awards last year — a record for the Institute. Rensselaer and Cornell University tied for having the most CAREER award winners in New York state with eight apiece, according to the NSF. Bolstered by those numbers, New York jumped to second in the nation in the total number of CAREER awards for the state

Nyman, a Troy resident and native of Finland who joined the Rensselaer faculty in 1998, received a $375,000 five-year grant to study the fate and transport of man-made organic compounds in lakes. Fate refers to the biodegradation, photodegradation, and sorption/desorption processes.

Nyman will simulate severe storms in her laboratory to determine the path of contaminants, mainly hydrophobic (will not adsorb in water) compounds such as benzidine. The force of the waves created by the simulated storms will allow her to track the contaminants, which could lead to methods to more accurately model and predict the transport and desorption of hydrophobic compounds.

Nyman's sediment samples will come from Lake Macatawa in Holland, Mich., where the water has been exposed to benzidine for decades. Biodegradation of benzidine is not known, but due to long exposure, it is possible that microbes in Lake Macatawa have developed the ability to degrade benzidine. Ultimately, this study of the dynamics of benzidine compounds and their derivatives will shed considerable light on the general subject of hydrophobic organic compound fate and transport behavior.

Under her grant, Nyman also will develop two new courses to train undergraduate and graduate students. Nyman also has volunteered to organize and advise Rensselaer's new student chapter of the Air and Waste Management/Water Environment Federation (A&WMA/WEF). Additionally, Nyman will work with senior high school students from the New Visions Mathematics/Engineering/Technology/Sciences (METS) program to provide a hands-on learning experience in environmental engineering.

Contact: Patricia Azriel
Phone: (518) 276-6531
E-mail: N/A