ESE student awarded American Water scholarship

May 26, 2017

Alma Beciragic

Alma Beciragic

Alma Beciragic, doctoral student in environmental sciences and engineering at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, has been awarded the American Water Works Association (AWWA) 2017 American Water Scholarship.

Mark LeChavallier, PhD, AWWA vice president and chief science adviser, praised the work of Beciragic, who was one of 54 applicants for the $5,000 scholarship.

“Not only is Alma an exceptional scholar,” LeChavallier said. “She has the credibility to take on a future leadership role in the stewardship of environmental protection. We are honored to help advance her drinking water research studies.”

Beciragic, who came to the United States from Croatia as a refugee in 1994, studied environmental science and chemistry at Queens University in Charlotte before coming to the UNC Gillings School for graduate work.

At Queens, she worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Geodetic Survey Remote Sensing Division on shoreline uncertainty visualization. She also worked with Charlotte Water on various continuous improvement projects studying climate change adaptability, fleet fuel efficiency, and business cost minimization. In May 2014, she graduated as salutatorian.

As an Environmental Protection Agency Science to Achieve Results (EPA STAR) fellow at UNC, her current research examines the use of membrane systems that can treat impaired water sources and result in high-quality drinking water.

Howard Weinberg, PhD, associate professor of environmental sciences and engineering at the Gillings School and Beciragic’s adviser, called Beciragic a rising star who is well positioned to provide future leadership and mentoring in applied research and consulting in the drinking water field.

“I challenge my students to think big, knowing full well that the results of their research likely will result in important benefits to society and lay the foundations for others’ research,” Weinberg said. “Alma shows a passion for such challenges through her attention to detail and organization. She has a high level of ability to learn from and work with others, all the while taking on new leadership roles and winning prestigious awards.”

With a history dating to 1886, AWWA is largest and most geographically diverse publicly traded water and wastewater utility company in the United States. More information about the organization’s scholarship program is available here.


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Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or dpesci@unc.edu