Civil engineering students help promote water quality in the Mill and Quinnipiac rivers

October 01, 2021

Stephen Porobija collects a water sample from the Quinnipiac River

Three School of Engineering students are doing their part to promote water quality in the Mill and Quinnipiac rivers.

Senior civil engineering major Connor Becerril’s research involves testing for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the Mill River around Ball Island, which is the site of the retired English Station power plant. The site is adjacent to the Fair Haven community in New Haven.

Becerril’s work supports the Mill River Urban Waters Initiative’s (UWI) goal to create and nurture new connections between environmental organizations and New Haven residents to amplify community voices and leadership in environmental stewardship and justice while providing opportunities for community-based science and research along the Mill River.

Becerril worked closely with Quinnipiac faculty advisers Kimberly DiGiovanni, assistant teaching professor of civil engineering; Courtney McGinnis, professor of biology; Joanna Kinsey, assistant professor of chemistry; and John Greenleaf, chair of engineering and director of the civil engineering program.

DiGiovanni is chair of an Urban Waters Initiative (UWI) for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Luke Desilva, who is also a senior civil engineering major, is testing water quality and quantity in tributaries to the Mill River throughout the West Woods neighborhood of Hamden. His research will help establish baseline conditions prior to proposed installation of densely clustered green stormwater infrastructure, including a rain garden and bioswales, in the surrounding neighborhood.

Becerril and Desilva shared their findings at the Mill River Watershed Association meeting on September 14.

A third senior civil engineering student, Stephen Porobija, worked with McGinnis to collect and analyze samples from the Quinnipiac River to identify harmful substances and potential illicit discharges.

Their summer research work was supported by the Quinnipiac University Interdisciplinary Program for Research and Scholarship (QUIP-RS) program, the You Got this Kid! Leadership Foundation and the Quinnipiac River Fund.

Quinnipiac alumnus Chuck Saia formed the You Got this Kid! Leadership foundation to foster the development of young professionals, meanwhile evoking positive change for people with Lupus and our environment. 

The civil engineering students outlined their findings with the You Got this Kid! Leadership Foundation’s advisory board on September 20 and will discuss their findings at the annual QUIP-RS poster symposium on October 30.

In addition, Becerril will speak to sixth graders at Fair Haven’s John Martinez School.

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