Environmental Engineering & Science
Expected Graduation: 2015
Topics of Interest: Wastewater treatment and reuse; Sustainability of water and wastewater infrastructure; The role of microfinance in the water and sanitation sector
Currently, Rebecca's research focuses on waste stabilization ponds, a low-tech way of treating wastewater that is commonly used in developing countries. Her research aims to understand the current state of ponds in East Africa, with a focus on determining the design characteristics and maintenance regimes that result in better performance. This work also looks at the wastewater resue practices of farmers living near these pond sites. By understanding what farmers currently know about the risks and benefits of reuse, it is hoped that better interventions can be created to promote safer reuse – which may involve changes by the utility or changes in farmer behavior.
Rebecca is also currently involved in a microfinance project in Kenya that is a collaboration with water.org. This project aims to understand the impacts of providing access to loans for hosuehold-level water and sanitation infrastructure improvements, such as piped water connections, latrine construction, and water storage tanks. For this project, Rebecca is interested in measuring how household members spend their time and how these time budgets change as a result of the microfinance loans, especially with regard to time savings from reduced water fetching time.
Rebecca earned a B.S. in Civil & Environmental Engineering from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. She also earned certificates in African Studies and International Engineering. Outside of research, Rebecca is interested in African politics, especially in eastern Africa. She loves traveling and attempting new languages like Luganda, Swahili and Arabic.