Recent chemical engineering graduate Matthew Coggon won a 2010 Undergraduate Student Award in Environmental Chemistry from the American Chemical Society (ACS) for, among other accomplishments, his research on acid mine drainage. As his two faculty advisors, former Associate Professor Sarina Ergas of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and Professor David Ford (shown) of the Chemical Engineering Department, said about Coggon: “Matt is capable of working at the interface between chemical engineering, environmental engineering, geosciences, and microbiology to make a contribution to our understanding of the worldwide environmental problem of acid mine drainage.”
Coggon earned the highest GPA in his graduating class while regularly working 15-20 hours a week as a driver for the campus bus service and performing cutting-edge environmental research. Coggon began his research as a sophomore, helping a doctoral student with field work in an investigation of acid mine drainage bioremediation. He later worked as an REU in Dr. Joanne Silverstein’s lab at the University of Colorado, Boulder, investigating the microbial processes responsible for generation of acid mine drainage.
For his honor’s thesis, Coggon conducted a study that investigated the bioavailability of jarosite minerals to Fe(III) reducing bacteria at Davis Mine, an abandoned pyrite mine in Western Massachusetts. Coggon worked closely with faculty and students from environmental engineering, microbiology, and geosciences to characterize the mineralogy and microbiology at the site and conduct controlled experiments to investigate the effect of jarosite, organic substrate, and nutrient addition on shifts in geochemistry, mineral composition and morphology, and microbial community structure.
“Matt accomplished all of this with hard work and a positive attitude that is contagious,” said Ergas and Ford.
The ACS sponsors annual awards to full-time undergraduate students currently enrolled in a United States education institution in chemistry, environmental engineering, or other programs emphasizing environmental chemistry. (September 2010)