Dr. Karthikeyan, affectionately called Dr. K by his students, was recently appointed as the Program Chair for the Water Management & Hydrological Science (WMHS) Interdisciplinary Program (IDP). This graduate program was created in 2005 to foster the discovery and application of knowledge about water management, conservation, treatment, and recycling. Being the second largest IDP at Texas A&M University, the program offers a wide range of water-related courses that students can take. The diverse coursework is available to students due to the interdisciplinary nature of the water issues. As an IDP, the major is not housed specifically in one department allowing for students to specialize their interests within the major. Currently there are more than 60 students pursuing a graduate degree within this major from the colleges of: Agriculture and Life Sciences, Engineering, Geosciences, and Architecture and School of Public Health. More than 70 faculty members are currently participating in the WMHS program.
Within the United States, the availability for clean water is presumed; no thought is given to worrying if the water we are drinking has pathogens lurking within. Other countries are not as lucky to have this luxury. Dr. Karthikeyan draws a comparison of availability of clean verses dirty water; imagine a gallon of water and only a teaspoon of this gallon is acceptable for drinking. Clean water availability will become a critical topic in the coming decades. Dr. Karthikeyan is well versed in water issues and is aptly trained to prepare the next generation of water scientists and engineers. He conducts applied research in the areas of water quality modeling and water disinfection. Within this research paradigm, he and his students monitor and model biological water quality. Dr. Karthikeyan searches for pathogens lurking in the water we drink every day analyzing the risks it may have to our health. Now, Dr. Karthikeyan does not stop his research once he finds pathogens in the water he researches new ways to disinfect the water. He stresses how important chlorination is to the availability of safe drinking water, pointing out how LIFE magazine said it was the invention of the millennia. While chlorination has created clean water for billions, it still poses risks. Dr. Karthikeyan has researched a solution to this with ultraviolet disinfection with photocatalysts. This revolutionary way of disinfecting water has minimal risks associated with it compared to chlorination.
Besides conducting research at Texas A&M, Dr. Karthikeyan teaches graduate and undergraduate students how to design biological wastewater treatment systems. He also developed four new courses including one that focuses on the hydrologic cycle. Dr. Karthikeyan’s goal for the WMHS program is to prepare a diverse group of students to become the next generation of the water workforce at the state, national, and international levels. Students are preparing to become scientists, engineers, lawyers, policy makers, government officials, and economists all focused on water resources. The Water Management & Hydrological Science IDP offers a diverse course load with holistic knowledge allowing students with any academic background to study about how they can make a difference within the water workforce.
For more information about the WMHS graduate program:
Program website: https://waterprogram.tamu.edu/
Dr. Karthikeyan, Program Chair
Dr. C. P. Khedun, Program Coordinator
Article by Jessica Schaeffer
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