Undergraduate researcher seeks to improve soil remediation

Supported by the Cataldo Scholarship, Kenneth Stephens, E24, completed an independent research project focused on soil remediation.
Exterior of the Science and Engineering Complex at Tufts.

As an R-1 research institution, Tufts School of Engineering encourages research opportunities starting from the undergraduate level. In the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, awards such as the Cataldo Scholarship enable undergraduate students to gain valuable research experience in their junior year. Named after John A. Cataldo, who earned a BS in Civil Engineering in 1946, the scholarship recognizes outstanding juniors in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Department who have demonstrated meritorious academic achievement, good character, and promise as leaders in their profession.

The scholarship funds juniors in the department to complete independent research projects. Kenneth Stephens, E24, a 2023 recipient of the Cataldo Scholarship, recently completed research with remediation technology company ISOTEC. Working with Associate Professor Andrew Ramsburg and Part-Time Lecturer Paul Dombrowski, Stephens focused on improving in situ chemical oxidation (ISCO) treatment for contaminated soil. 

Engineers often complete bench scale treatability tests to determine the parameters to best remediate contaminated soil, but in areas where bench scale tests are not completed, they rely on approximations based on data from other sites. In an effort to refine these predictions, Stephens reviewed over 80 bench scale studies to investigate how different soil characteristics impact the remediation treatment needed. He recently presented his work at the 2024 Chlorinated Conference in Denver, Colorado.