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Matthew Schupler, Featured Scholar

Journal of Undergraduate Research from the Center for Undergraduate Research
PRIVATE ITEM Digitization of this item is currently in progress.
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00091523/00635

Material Information

Title: Matthew Schupler, Featured Scholar
Series Title: Journal of Undergraduate Research
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Kozak, Anastasia
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: Spring 2013

Subjects

Genre: serial   ( sobekcm )

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: sobekcm - UF00091523_00602
System ID: UF00091523:00649

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00091523/00635

Material Information

Title: Matthew Schupler, Featured Scholar
Series Title: Journal of Undergraduate Research
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Kozak, Anastasia
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: Spring 2013

Subjects

Genre: serial   ( sobekcm )

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: sobekcm - UF00091523_00602
System ID: UF00091523:00649


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University of Florida | Journal of U ndergraduate Research | Volum e 14, Issue 2 | Spring 2013 1 Matthew Shupler Featured Scholar Journal of Undergraduate Research Although Matthew Shupler was always interested in environment al health he took his time to explore the related majors offered at the University of Florida. After trying out environm ental science and then prelaw, he was finally drawn to the precision and applicability of environmental engineering. The effort and energy that goes into water treatment and solid waste management are things that everyone overlooks and takes for granted , Shuler says. It's very precise, like every other field of engineering. His primary interest is sustainability, a concept that features prominently in his paper on the treatment of household graywater with bioregenerative technologies. In Florida, Shupler explains, the ongoing potential threat of droughts due to climate change puts the water supply at risk. So it is important to reuse wastewater as much as possible instead of tapping into our clean, drinking water supply for non potable purposes. S hupler, who graduated from UF in December 2012, describes himself as motivated, persevering, and socially involved. Doubtless, these qualities also served him well in the detail oriented research process required for the research Graywater, or the wastewater from showers, washing machines, kitchen sinks, and dishwashers, makes up the bulk of residential wastewater and, if properly recycled, represents the largest potential source of water savings in domestic residencies. While there are several methods of water treatment, including chlorine disinfection, filtration, and reverse osmosis, biological treatment using immobilized microbes (biofilm) requires little to no consumables, less energy, and few maintenance requirements compared to physical and chemical options. What the study attempted to determine was the effect of silver nanoparticles (SNP), common antimicrobial agents found in commercial products, on biofilm behavior. For this study, Shupler had to construct a small hollow fiber membran e bioreactor and collect sludge from the UF Wastewater Treatment Plant to begin the process of biofilm formation on the hollow fiber membrane. Then, enough nanosilver was added to imitate the conditions of dirty laundry water, and the effect of its toxicit y on biofilm was observed. Every other day, Shupler was responsible for conducting several measurements to ensure that the bioreactor is operating properly: pH of the water, both influent (going into the reactor) and effluent (leaving the reactor), effluen t oxygen, and chemical oxygen demand (COD). Like many science research projects, this one was collaborative in nature. Shupler learned about the research topic from Dr. Eric S. McLamore, an Assistant Professor in the Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) program, who delivered a guest lecture in one of Shupler's classes and announced that he was looking for undergraduate students interested in research. Shupler got in touch with Dr. McLamore, who then provided Shupler with the background information and trained him in basic research methods. Even though the work fitted more into the biological engineering field, there was a strong connection to environmental concerns. The interdisciplinary nature of the project also meant that Shupler worked with Ka telyn Ward and Yunjie Zhang, both undergrads in the ABE program who are listed on his paper as co authors. When Shupler's busy schedule did not allow him to come into the lab, they helped out with measurements. A self described newbie of the group, he is more than willing to share the credit with Wa rd and Zhang, who were a huge help with answering and clarifying procedures when Dr. McLamore was not available. Not everything always went smoothly though. Biofilm is very delicate : It can detach easily if certain conditions

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University of Florida | Journal of U ndergraduate Research | Volum e 14, Issue 2 | Spring 2013 2 are not met with; you have to keep a certain flow rate and other parameters, Shupler explains. The biofilm that Shupler was working with did detach almost halfway through the experiment and rendered all the previous measurements i nvalid. As a result, he had to start over from scratch and speed up the inoculation and acclimation process of sludge in order to meet the paper deadline. There was, admittedly, a huge time crunch, but everyone was helpful and the paper was completed on time. Again, motivation and perseverance paid off. Although the research conducted was only a preliminary study that reinforces the results of other similar studies, it represents another step forward towards sustainable and economically feasible water use. When asked about the implications of his work, Shupler points out that because partial treatment of wastewater using biological methods can be implemented on a household and community level, it does not require the amount of infrastructure and energ y costs required for current centralized, physical process water treatment systems. Retrospectively, Shupler feels that UF was a great choice since it is one of the few universities with environmental engineering as a separate major apart fro m civil engineering, which means more courses tailored to the environmental field and better preparation for grad school. Since he always kept grad school in mind, the financial aid offered to him was also a large determining factor. During his time at UF, he became involved in the engineering fraternity, Theta Tau, where he was involved in several executive decisions. He is also an avid tennis player and played for the UF intramurals and Club Tennis Team. And, of course, being an environmentalist and from South Florida, he loves being outdoors S hupler will be starting his work on a Master's in Public Health degree with a concentration in environmental health at the George Washington University this fall. Although he is not entirely certain what sector he will be working for after graduation, he definitely intends to stick to the environmental career path. With a concentration in public health, he would also be able to study toxicology and the eff ect of toxins on health. A possibility of a Ph.D and conducting his own environmental health research are also not out of the question. At this point, Shupler doesn't seem concerned about the many options available to him and his enthusiasm for research an d publishing for the greater good is stated plainly: I love the whole research process and learning from it! Anastasia Kozak Background photo by Eric S. McLamore