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Hardiljeet Boparai

Can you tell us what you do?

Heavy metals combined with chlorinated solvents are one class of mixed waste found at numerous sites in North America. The remediation of mixed waste is challenging as the heavy metals may hinder or enhance the removal of chlorinated solvents. Although intensive research has investigated removal of chlorinated solvents and heavy metals by nZVI independently, comparatively little research has investigated the remediation of wastes when they are present in the same mixture. Hardiljeet’s current project focuses on studying the removal of metals and chlorinated solvents by nZVI when these contaminants are present alone or in mixed waste in the synthetic or groundwater samples.

mZVI has long been used for remediation of contaminated groundwater. Since the last decade, nZVI has been developed as an alternative to mZVI due to its higher contaminant removal capacity. The current project also focuses on studying the various surface properties of mZVI and nZVI to better understand their reductive and adsorptive capacity differences.

Your Background? How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unique career?

Hailing from countryside Punjab (India), Hardiljeet grew up in environment that was as natural as it could be. Following her educational journey from rural village, she moved to city of Ludhiana, (a.k.a Manchester of India) as boarding high school student. She quickly realized the pros and cons of the contrasting city life, and what affected her thought process at that time was environmental pollution. And thus, to help restore this universal problem, became her passion by active participation in essay writing, declamation contests, and aiming to opt for career in Environmental Science.

What did you study?

Hardiljeet paved the path she envisioned by passing out her Bachelors in Agriculture Honors with Soil Science Major from the Punjab Agricultural University, which laid strong foundation for her future career development. From there, she carried out the enthusiasm to study Masters in Soil Science from the same University with even higher standards for herself. It helped her understand the intricacies of Lab research and field work. She enjoyed her first job as Research Fellow in PAU for one year.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln was her ultimate choice to embark her career in Environmental Science. While doing her PhD, Hardiljeet also worked at Pacific Northwest National Lab for one semester to further enhance her research skills. She later joined as Postdoc at UNL for more than a year during which she enjoyed her travels within U.S and to India.

The appetite for learning new skills made her shortlist the destination-RESTORE. She finds herself fortunate to be a part of this incredible “RESTORE” army. In this short span, she enjoyed learning in writing the grant proposals