Talon’ted Undergraduate Researcher - Emily Glenn

KENNESAW, Ga. (January 24, 2023) — Emily Glenn, a senior environmental engineering major, received one of KSU's Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Funds (URCA) awards and used it to present her microplastic research at the Georgia Association of Water Professionals conference (GAWP).

Glenn's research project, Microplastic Fate and Transport at a Drinking Water Treatment Plant, examined the role microplastics play in the environment.

Emily Glenn
Emily Glenn

Q: What is your hometown and high school?

A: Growing up in a military family meant that I never considered anywhere to be my hometown. However, I spent the most time in Hawaii, where I lived for about six years. I graduated from Kaiser High School (Honolulu, Hawaii) and started my college career there. Even though it wasn’t necessarily my hometown, living in Honolulu had a large impact on where I am today.

Q: What is your major and class year? What motivated you to pursue your specific degree and career path?

A: My major is environmental engineering, and my graduation date is Spring 2023.

There were multiple factors when deciding my degree. I had initially planned to do public health, but I wanted a degree that focused on both research and more a more hands-on approach. Public health was what led me to environmental engineering, as there is a subset focused on environmental policies that I thought was interesting. I also decided to stay in school a bit longer to obtain my certificate in GIS because I enjoyed using it at my internship.

Q: Everyone has their own unique journey to becoming a KSU Owl. Can you describe why you chose to attend KSU?

A: I am a transfer student. I originally attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa, but they did not offer a BS in public health, only a BA. I also felt that it wasn’t quite the right fit.

I had heard about environmental engineering and thought it sounded interesting, so I decided to switch. My parents mentioned that KSU was a college near where they had moved to, and I saw that environmental engineering was offered as a degree, and that was that.

Q: How did you get involved with research at KSU?

A: My academic advisor recommended it to me. A semester before, I had fluid mechanics with Dr. (Amy) Gruss and enjoyed taking her class. I reached out and learned that she was studying microplastic fate and transport in water treatment and found the idea intriguing.

  • The things you learn in class are usually conceptual, but being able to put them into practice to an observable real-world outcome felt very rewarding.”

Q: One of the most rewarding parts of being a student researcher is the opportunity to connect with and be mentored by faculty. How has your experience been with KSU faculty since you have been involved with research?

A: Dr. Gruss was extremely helpful as a mentor. When I was applying for internships, she helped me write my resume and gave me tips on how to make myself stand out from other candidates. She is also always open to having a discussion on what I can do in the future with my degree. I think working one-on-one with Dr. Gruss allowed me to get more comfortable about talking to professors.

Q: What is one of your favorite parts of conducting research?

A: I liked being able to apply things I learned in class to something more hands-on. The things you learn in class are usually conceptual, but being able to put them into practice to an observable real-world outcome felt very rewarding.

Q: What advice would you give to current students who may be curious about getting involved in research?

A: You should do it! It’s a valuable experience and bonuses as a resume builder. Your academic advisor can tell you more about it, but you should see if you can use it as an upper division elective. Then you should reach out to a professor of your choice and ask if they’re currently doing any research.

Q: What are your plans and goals after graduating from KSU?

A: I plan to spend a bit of time abroad and will use this time to consider getting a master’s degree. After that, I would like to pursue a career relating to research and consulting. My main goal right now is to graduate, and after that I am very excited to see where life will take me!

Q: How have your experiences in research prepared you for your future goals?

A: My directed study was a great experience and doubled as a resume builder; it more than likely helped me get my current internship. A major part of doing the directed study was data analysis, which is a necessity and anything that will help you improve your skill is a must. I also got to practice reading research papers and writing in academic language, which I’ve used a lot at my internship.

Q: Congratulations on receiving one of KSU’s URCA awards! That is a remarkable achievement. Can you describe your experience of presenting your research work at the Georgia Association of Water Professionals Conference?

A: Thank you! It was a really great learning experience that helped me develop industry experience. I went to the Georgia’s Association of Water Professionals Conference in Savannah, Georgia, over the summer to present a poster.

In order to attend, I wrote and submitted an abstract to the association. I talked to a plethora of professionals in the water and wastewater industry and presented my research to them. I would recommend going to as many conferences as possible, because it is a great way to network. It also helped me narrow down my interests a little more because you get to meet people from different areas of work.

— Will-Franklin Eller

Emily Glenn