Recent CEE Ph.D. Graduate Wins CA-NV Section Academic Achievement Award, Moves on to Compete Nationally

October 23, 2018
Author: Katharine Hall
October 23, 2018

Michelle Chebeir, recent Chemical and Environmental Engineering graduate of the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering, won the California-Nevada American Water Works Association (AWWA) Academic Achievement Award – Doctoral 1st Place and will move on to compete nationally. 

The annual award encourages academic excellence by recognizing graduate students and their professors who have made outstanding contributions to the field of public water supply through their work at a university in California or Nevada.

Chebeir’s dissertation focused on the occurrence and transformation of chromium in drinking water distribution systems. Her study sparked the need for further investigation into the application of a broad range of water quality parameters such as flow conditions and presence of residual disinfectants that can help to assess the conditions that lead to increases in corrosion, consequent metal release and the deterioration of water quality.

During her time as a doctoral student, she worked closely with professor and mentor Haizhou Liu of CEE. “Michelle’s unmatched dedication to environmental engineering will continue serve as a key component in the escalation of her career. The wonderful dissertation that Michelle produced made new discovery on the chemistry of hexavalent chromium, a toxic metal in drinking water system. It has profound implications on the development of water treatment strategies to minimize metal occurrence and safeguard our drinking water. I am very proud of her achievement,” said Dr. Liu. Her first-place win has entered her dissertation into the nationwide AWWA competition, for which results will be announced in April 2019.

Chebeir earned her B.S in Chemical and Materials Engineering in 2013 from Cal Poly Pomona and a Ph.D. in Chemical and Environmental Engineering from UC Riverside in 2017.  She is now working at an environmental engineering consulting firm, Hazen & Sawyer in Downtown Los Angeles.

The California-Nevada AWWA Achievement Award recognizes recipients in two categories, Doctoral and Master’s, and up to four awards are given each year with a monetary stipend for first and second place in each category. To be eligible, applicants must submit an entry form, thesis/dissertation/manuscript, one-page abstract, and a letter of endorsement from the major professor or department chair. The competition is open to students majoring in any subject, provided the work is directly related to the public water supply.