Dr. Shannon Bartelt-Hunt to discuss citizen science, water quality at Feb. 5 seminar

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By: Gabrielle Boucher

Dr. Shannon Bartelt-Hunt is the civil and environmental engineering department chair at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She grew up in Mediapolis, Iowa, a town of 1,500 in the state’s southeast corner. Coming of age in a farming community sparked her interest in the environment and how different practices affect water quality. This interest steered her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering at Northwestern University. She enjoyed this because it combined sciences like chemistry and biology with engineering and problem-solving. As an undergraduate, she spent time conducting research which continued through to her master’s and PhD at the University of Virginia and a subsequent post-doc at North Carolina State University. All of her graduate work dealt with contaminant movement in the environment.

She then returned to the Midwest and has spent the last 14 years in Nebraska. She started as an assistant professor in the civil and environmental engineering department and recently became its new chair. In this role, her research centers on contaminant transport and the Water Quality + Citizen Science Project – the focus of her Feb. 5 seminar. She hopes to expand this project across the state and investigate emerging contaminants such as microplastics and antibiotics. In the project, Nebraska citizens sign up and receive test kits to test their own water – be it well water or groundwater – and then send their data in for evaluation. In her seminar, Dr. Bartelt-Hunt will share more about this project and its results to date.

For students interested in water quality or environmental issues, Dr. Bartelt-Hunt recommends they get involved with the multitude of university programs and even community organizations related to these topics. Water quality is an important aspect of life in Nebraska, so getting involved can truly make a difference. Her passion for water quality is clear, and seminar attendees are sure to gain valuable knowledge from her presentation.