Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

In a project that began this summer and will continue throughout the school year, Kristen Tull’06 (Sicklerville, N.J.) is developing a cost-effective method of removing arsenic from drinking water.

A double major in A.B. engineering and international affairs, she will coauthor a paper based on her research with Sharon Jones, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Art Kney, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering. The paper will be submitted for publication in an academic journal at the completion of their two-year project.

In her research, Tull passes water through a column that has activated alumina (alumninum oxide) for arsenic removal. She then uses a graphite furnace to determine the concentration of water.

“The water needs to be continually passed through this column until it reaches the breakthrough point,” she explains. “This is the point at which the substance will no longer remove arsenic because it has reached its maximum absorption point.”

Tull is also trying to determine the effectiveness of activated alumina in removing the arsenic by analyzing the surface chemicals of the alumina and determining its surface area. She has been able to determine that when coated with the compound FeC12, activated alumina works well in removing arsenic.

The researchers are collaborating through Lafayette’s distinctive EXCEL Scholars program, in which students conduct research with faculty while earning a stipend. The program has helped to make Lafayette a national leader in undergraduate research. Many of the more than 160 students who participate each year share their work through articles in academic journals and/or conference presentations.

“[Kristen] has shown motivation for independent work,” Jones says, adding that Tull was interested in finding a summer internship but decided to stay on campus and work on EXCEL research instead. “[She] has shown tremendous initiative.”

Kney helped Tull learn the machinery and analysis tools needed to run the experiments.

“Dr. Kney is very patient and understanding,” she says.

“I have found that discoveries take time,” Tull adds. “The attitudes with which I am always surrounded are very motivating.”

She is president of the International Affairs Club and vice president of the Leonardo Society for students majoring in A.B. engineering. She also competes in club soccer and gives tours for the admissions office. Tull recently started the Society of Environmental Engineers and Scientists to encourage work in environmental science and engineering.

She was part of a multidisciplinary student team that had research presented at the 18th annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research April 15-17. The group developed a cost-effective treatment technology to decrease the concentration of perchlorate in water, which has been linked to health problems concerning hormone production.

“I feel very fortunate to be able to obtain a Lafayette education,” she says. “Academically, I am challenged and stimulated in such a way that I am certain I will be prepared for the real world.”

Tull hopes to have a career in the field of public policy and believes that working on this EXCEL project will help make that happen.

“There is a great chance that I may work in environmental engineering when I graduate,” she says.

“The EXCEL program is amazing,” Jones adds.

As a national leader in undergraduate research, Lafayette sends one of the largest contingents to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research each year. Forty-two students were accepted to present their work at the last annual conference in April.

Categorized in: Academic News