News | September 24, 2014

Two Doctoral Students Studying Membrane Fouling Receive The 2014 AMTA-NWRI Fellowship Award

The American Membrane Technology Association (AMTA) of Stuart, FL, and National Water Research Institute (NWRI) of Fountain Valley, CA, are pleased to announce the 2014 AMTA-NWRI Fellowship for Membrane Technology has been awarded to doctoral students Ariel Atkinson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Erin Partlan of Clemson University.

This joint fellowship provides $10,000 a year for 2 years to support graduate research that pertains to NWRI's objectives to improve water quality, protect public health and the environment, and create safe, new sources of water, as well as AMTA’s vision statement to solve water supply and quality issues through the widespread application of membrane technology.

Both recipients, who will each receive the $10,000 award, are conducting graduate-level research projects focused on membrane fouling, in which particles and other constituents in water stick to and obstruct membranes used as part of the water treatment process. Membrane fouling is considered a major operational issue in treatment plants employing reverse osmosis technology, like desalination plants and water recycling plants.

Atkinson is a third-year doctoral student in the Environmental Sciences and Engineering Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her graduate research project focuses on the development and application of a novel anti-biofouling membrane. A more reliable technology or process for preventing biofouling could produce better water quality and save on treatment costs, as any amount of fouling increases energy, cleaning, and replacement costs. Her graduate advisor is Assistant Professor Orlando Coronell.

Partlan is a first-year doctoral student in the Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences Department at Clemson University. Her research project will evaluate the use of dissolved carbon dioxide for the prevention and removal of foulants from reverse osmosis membranes. The potential use of dissolved carbon dioxide to clean foulants from membranes could decrease treatment plant operational costs because carbon dioxide could be recovered in greater amounts than chemical cleaners and removed from water through simple mechanisms. Her graduate advisor is Assistant Professor David Ladner.

Both Atkinson and Partlan will attend the 2015 AMTA-AWWA Membrane Technology Conference and Exposition in March 2015 in Orlando, FL, to present on their fellowship-funded graduate research. In addition, they will each receive a plaque at the Awards Luncheon.

For more information about the fellowship, visit

About The American Membrane Technology Association (AMTA)
The American Membrane Technology Association’s mission it to promote, advocate and advance the understanding and application of membrane technology to create safe, affordable and reliable water supplies, and to treat municipal, industrial, agricultural and waste waters for beneficial use. AMTA provides broad opportunities for the exchange of technical, operational and financial information among individuals and organizations interested in membrane technologies. As the leading advocate of membrane processes in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America, AMTA is a strong voice for regulatory and legislative reforms essential to the understanding, acceptance and utilization of membrane technologies. For more information, visit

About The National Water Research Institute (NWRI)
The National Water Research Institute (NWRI) was founded in 1991 by a group of Southern California water agencies in partnership with the Joan Irvine Smith and Athalie R. Clarke Foundation to promote the protection, maintenance, and restoration of water supplies and to protect the freshwater and marine environments through the development of cooperative research work. NWRI’s member agencies include Inland Empire Utilities Agency, Irvine Ranch Water District, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Orange County Sanitation District, Orange County Water District, and West Basin Municipal Water District. For more information, visit

SOURCE: The American Membrane Technology Association (AMTA)