Expected Graduation Date: 2021
University of Arkansas
Karla has been a member of SWE since she was an undergraduate student. During her first year of Graduate School, Karla co-founded the GradSWE group at UofA as part of the University of Arkansas’s SWE section. She is now the Chair of the GradSWE group and will hold this position for the 2019-2020 school year. As Chair, she promotes inclusion of graduate students in her local SWE section and plans social and professional development events tailored to graduate student interests. At UoA, she frequently participates in graduate-focused events, and is also the President for the Arkansas Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Organization.
As the FY19 Undergraduate Mentoring Coordinator for the societal GradSWE team, Karla connected about 80 undergraduate students interested in graduate school with graduate student mentors and helped them build valuable and supportive relationships as part of GradSWE’s mentoring program. She is continuing in this role for FY20!
Karla’s efforts in research and science communication have been recognized with prestigious awards, including her induction as a Barry Goldwater Scholar in 2016 and as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow in 2018.
Thesis Title: Life Cycle Assessment of Struvite Recovery in Wastewater Treatment Plants
Karla’s research centers on determining the environmental implications that could occur with widespread implementation of struvite recovery in the food, energy and waste nexus. Phosphorus is an essential and limited resource that is primarily used in fertilizer for food production. As it is a crucial component for growing crops, its conservation has become a key priority for sustaining future generations. Struvite, or magnesium ammonium phosphate, is an N & P fertilizer that can be produced electrochemically and chemically from wastewater. Struvite recovery provides an opportunity to both reduce N & P content in waste streams and recycle phosphorus.
Following graduation, Karla plans to work for government agencies, such as the EPA, on science policies pertaining to areas of sustainability, human health, and the environment.
Outside of work, Karla enjoys exercising and reading books on many topics ranging from nonfiction to mysteries and thrillers. She also enjoys reading her school’s newspaper as well as keeping up with various news outlets. Her favorite recent read that she recommends to her fellow GradSWE members is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey–a truly inspiring and motivating book for any graduate student!
Fun Fact from Karla: Karla is El Salvadorian!