When Jessica Deaver arrived at Clemson University as a Ph.D. student, she had a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Miami.
While her science bona fides were strong, engineering seemed intimidating to her. Turns out, she had nothing to worry about.
Jessica has distinguished herself as an outstanding student since arriving at Clemson to pursue a Ph.D. in environmental engineering and Earth sciences.
“I got a lot more confident in myself as a researcher,” she said. “I think that was one of the biggest things I got out of moving into an engineering program. All my peers are really good at problem-solving.”
As part of her Ph.D. program, Jessica has built on her science background by conducting research into wastewater treatment technology. She is particularly focused on on the anaerobic digestion of wastewater sludge and how microbial communities interact with fats, oil and grease.
In the correct amounts, fats, oils, and grease in anaerobic digestion improve production of methane, which can be used as an energy source.
Jessica has also had the chance to mentor fellow students and train them on lab equipment.
“When I show them how to do it, and they’re trying to figure it out, and there are a lot of steps, but all of a sudden they get it– I love those moments,” she said. “That’s kind of my legacy here. This equipment is set up, and there are people who know how to use it when I’m gone.”
Along the way, Jessica has received several honors, including the South Carolina Space Grant Consortium’s Graduate Research Fellowship, the Linville G. Rich Water Environment Association Award, and first- and third-place student poster awards at the South Carolina Environmental Conference.
She has been co-advised by Drs. Sudeep Popat and Kevin Finneran, and she has been helped by her advisory committee.
Jessica is now on track to receive her Ph.D. in May. She is concentrating her job search on research institutions and postdoctoral-fellow opportunities.
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