Graduate School Research Position at Tennessee Tech

April 8, 2020

The Arias Chavez research lab in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Tennessee Tech University is currently seeking a graduate student (MS or PhD) for an NSF-funded research project on the use of polymeric membranes for the reclamation of industrial wastewater.

This project would be particularly attractive to prospective grad students who:
• Are passionate about finding new ways to more sustainably manage resources at the water – energy – food nexus
• Want to be part of the larger environmental engineering/science community’s effort to enable society to view and use ‘wastes’ as resources
• Seek hands-on experimental work, which is currently bench-scale (in the lab) and will later transition to pilot-scale
• Would like to support or learn more about the nascent non-food-biomass-based synthetic fuel industry (this project enjoys close collaboration with a local start-up company that produces diesel fuel, jet fuel, and hydrogen from switchgrass and other non-food biomass sources; this company’s technology is designed with both developed and developing countries in mind)
• Enjoy interacting with undergraduates and (occasionally) high school students through collaborative research and community outreach activities, respectively
• Are excited by the interesting and challenging scientific thinking needed to study the transport of real industrial wastewater species through forward osmosis and reverse osmosis membranes

Desired attributes and qualifications:
• Bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering, chemical engineering, or any related field.
• Ability to work well with other lab members as well as independently
• Excellent scientific writing and presentation abilities and/or a desire to learn them
• Attention to detail and capacity for big-picture thinking
The following items are helpful but not required:
• Experience with membranes and membrane processes (especially forward osmosis and reverse osmosis)
• Experience with wastewater or industrial waste of any kind
• Experience with characterizing complex environmental water samples, especially those containing hydrocarbons
• Industry / work experience in chemical / environmental engineering or similar areas

Timeline and Selection Process:
• Position will start in the Fall 2020 semester. It may be possible to begin paid work on the research project during the second half of the summer, before classes start.
• Tennessee Tech’s deadline for application has formally been pushed back to May 1 in light of COVID-19-related disruptions across society, but potential applicants are encouraged to contact Dr. Laura Arias Chavez ( as soon as possible, as virtual interviews will begin this week.
• Please send a resume / CV and unofficial transcript when contacting Dr. Arias Chavez with questions or interest. Requirements for standardized test taking are being suspended during this time of virus disruption. Students who have already taken standardized tests are encouraged to submit scores.

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