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Nicola Powell

PhD in Environmental Engineering

I originally came to Massey to study Bioprocess Engineering which is a four year degree but I never ended up leaving and I have now been here 12 years! I have always been interested in how things work which is why I decided to study Engineering. But while studying at Massey I found that my real area of interest was Environmental Engineering.

After completing my Honours degree I started my PhD where I studied how algae remove phosphorus from wastewater. I discovered that under certain conditions we could trick the algae into storing large quantities of phosphorus within their cells. By removing the algae we then clean up the wastewater and have a phosphorus rich material which could potentially be used as a fertiliser in order to reuse the phosphorus. This has the advantage of keeping the phosphorus out of the environment but also producing a sustainable fertiliser.

I am now employed at Massey as a lecturer in the School of Engineering and Advanced Technology. In the last few years I have been involved in projects including converting waste to energy, minimising nutrient leaching from dairy farms and developing low cost wastewater treatment technologies for small communities.

Nicola Powell

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