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CCEE faculty, students win big at AWWA’s ACE23

CCEE faculty and students brought home several awards from the American Water Works Association (AWWA)’s Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE23) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on June 11-14. An estimated 10,000 water professionals from across the world attended the conference to collaborate on creating a sustainable and resilient future for the water community.  

Detlef Knappe

James Ellen Distinguished Professor Detlef Knappe, who received the A.P. Black Research Award from AWWA, was recognized during the conference with a plaque. 

“It was a big surprise and very exciting to learn that I was selected. It is humbling looking at all the previous winners — many have been my teachers and mentors over the years, including my Ph.D. advisor Dr. Vernon Snoeyink,” Detlef said.

The award was established in 1967 in honor of A. P. Black and recognizes outstanding research contributions to water science and water supply rendered over an appreciable period of time. Black was an influential member of the AWWA, serving as its president in 1949, as well as an internationally recognized expert in water and wastewater treatment. 

Knappe serves as deputy director of NC State’s Superfund Program Research Center for Environmental and Health Effects of PFAS and  is a member of the NIEHS-funded Center for Human Health and the Environment. Current efforts in the Knappe group focus on (1) developing and evaluating physical-chemical (and sometimes biological) treatment processes for the control of organic contaminants in drinking water, and (2) overcoming gaps between the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act by developing information about the effects of reactive and unregulated wastewater contaminants on drinking water quality and treatment.

Knappe serves on the North Carolina Secretaries’ Science Advisory Board that was convened by the NC Departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services. He also serves as Associate Editor for AWWA Water Science and is a member of AWWA’s Organic Contaminants Research Committee and Activated Carbon Standards Committee. Until 2022, he served as Trustee for the Water Science and Research Division of the AWWA.

In addition to the research award, a paper published by Knappe and former CCEE graduate students Elisa Arevalo, Viking Edeback, and Allison Spinelli (alongside co-authors from University of Colorado Boulder and Colorado School of Mines) received a best paper award. The paper is titled “Granular activated carbon adsorption of perfluoroalkyl acids from ground and surface water.”

Lan Cheng

CCEE Postdoctoral Research Scholar Lan Cheng, advised by Knappe, won first place in the Fresh Ideas poster award contest. The competition was launched more than a decade ago as part of its students and young professionals programming.

Cheng’s poster was titled “Compare and combine: PFAS removal by granular activated carbon adsorption and anion exchange.”