Krista Wigginton

Detecting and Treating Drinking Water Contaminants

Assistant Professor Krista Wigginton researches the fate of chemical and microbial pollutants in drinking water and wastewater treatment. Ultimately, she wants to find out how effective these treatments are on eliminating viruses.

"With the worldwide population increase and decreasing water supplies, the threat of contaminants from human waste, such as pathogens and pharmaceuticals, entering drinking water sources is dramatically increased," said Wigginton.

To address the threat of contaminants, Wigginton's research takes a three-pronged approach. 

First, she works to improve analytical methods in order to detect chemical and microbial contaminants at the low concentrations that can cause harm to humans and the environment.

Second, she explores how these chemical and microbiological pollutants break down—both in the natural environment as well as during engineered treatment processes.

Third, her work focuses on ways to improve existing treatment processes and on developing new technologies to address the trace organic contaminants and emerging pathogens in our wastewater and drinking water.

Wigginton’s graduate student YinYin Ye is helping Wigginton develop a new pathogen laboratory at CEE. In the fall, Wigginton will have two new PhD students. She plans to work with the students to study the polio virus and respiratory viruses, such as SARS. Although these viruses are nothing new, there are new tools – such as high resolution mass spectrometry – that can be used to research them.

Other projects Wigginton is interested in include developing field-based detection models for discriminating among virus strains; examining biomolecule pollutant degradation in wastewater treatment and sunlit waters; and optimizing advanced oxidation processes in drinking water.

Krista Wigginton


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