I have spent the last six weeks of my summer at UC Berkeley or as many people refer to it: Bear Territory. What is a Trojan doing here you ask? I am here as part of a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program funded by the National Science Foundation! The program is called ReNUWIt (pronounced RE-NEW-IT) which stands for Re-inventing the Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure. It is a nine week program spread across four different college campuses (UC Berkeley, Stanford, Colorado School of Mines, and New Mexico State University) which focuses on changing and improving the way we manage urban water through the use of technological advances in both natural and engineering systems.


So, where exactly do I fall within this program? My summer research project focuses on the Photo-deactivation of Bacteria in Unit-Process Treatment Wetlands. In simpler terms: I am working on creating something called a “photo-action spectrum” which can be used to model the rate at which bacteria die off in waste water with the use of natural sunlight. This research will help us to better design more effective natural waste water treatment facilities which meet the required disinfection rates. This is actually my first experience in undergraduate research, and I absolutely love it! I only have three more weeks remaining, but I plan to continue my research in water quality as soon as I get back to USC.


These reactors are all spiked with E. coli and Enterococcus faecalis bacteria and then placed under a Solar Simulator for over 30 hours!

But my summer hasn’t been all work and no play. This is the first time I have been up to the bay area and am making sure to take advantage of every moment of it. So far I have visited Lombard Street, Ghirardelli Square, Chinatown, and the Mission District! I sailed the San Francisco bay my first weekend here, although I underestimated the NorCal sun and got horribly sunburnt, it was still incredibly fun! Not only that but I have made some amazing friends from all across the country.

When you visit a waste water treatment facility, you have to take a picture in front of the micro-filtration system.

I have even had the opportunity to cross something off of my bucket list: bike across the Golden Gate Bridge. Did you guys know the Golden Gate Bridge is three miles long!?! Yeah, neither did I!

SHPE USC selfie in San Francisco!


My SHPE USC familia even decided to come up for the Fourth of July weekend! We enjoyed fireworks, sightseeing, delicious food, and hiking. It’s always nice to see a familiar face in the bay, especially when they’re Trojans!!

I am currently in my last few weeks here and am already feeling sad just thinking about leaving. But then I remember that leaving here means going back to the always sunny city of Los Angeles. But most importantly, going back to USC.

If you find yourself in the Berkeley area, look for someone wearing a bright red USC backpack, it’ll be me!


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Environmental Engineering, Class of 2017, Learn more on her profile here!