Darline Simoni Balen

AWWA Recognized Graduate Student
darline Balen

Darline Simoni Balen was recently selected as the American Water Works Association's second place 2020 Academic Achievement Award for the best master’s thesis. Balen, a civil engineer student, defended her graduate thesis in December before it was submitted to the AWWA competition open to all master’s thesis and doctoral dissertations pertaining to the water supply industry. The award came with a $1,500 prize. The recent graduate is a staff engineer at Tighe & Bond in Portsmouth.

Balen’s thesis, titled Enhancing E. Coli Removal from Slow-Rate Biofilters Treating Low-Carbon Source Waters, looked at improving removal efficiencies of slow-rate biofilters treating low-carbon waters by (i) increasing the organic carbon loading of the source water, and (ii) adding ferric chloride to act as a biofilter aid at the beginning of the biofilter operation or when changing source waters. The organic carbon loading was expected to increase biofilter active biomass with subsequent improvement in E. coli removal, while ferric chloride was expected to quickly enhance the capture of the E. coli by coagulation mechanisms. DNA sequencing analysis was performed to evaluate the impact of organic carbon and ferric chloride amendments on microbial community composition. You can read her thesis in full at https://scholars.unh.edu/thesis/1229/.