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Fulbright scholar tackles nitrogen run-off

27 February, 2013

Fulbright scholar tackles nitrogen run-off

David Zweig, 22, from Fayetteville, Arkansas could have chosen any country in the world to study in. New Zealand ended up getting the nod from the 2013 Fulbright Scholar not because of our landscape, environment or even our relationship with Hobbits.

“I don’t speak a second language so that cut my choices down,” he says.

David is spending 2013 at the University of Waikato studying in the Faculty of Science and Engineering under Professor Louis Schipper.

He is researching the effect of temperature on the efficiency of denitrification bioreactors for agricultural effluent, which is essentially looking at biological methods to decrease the amount of nitrogen entering waterways from farm run-off.

“It’s a big issue for New Zealand and the US,” David says.

“A lot of nitrogen ends up in waterways and that can cause algal blooms. This project looks at denitrification beds.”

The beds help convert the nitrogen into a harmless gas which is released into the atmosphere, rather than into waterways.

David has been in Hamilton since the start of the year and says he’s been doing plenty of reading to get up to speed with the work he’ll be doing, which includes regular field trips to denitrification beads around the region.

He says it was a long process to get accepted into the Fulbright programme and finally begin his studies.

“I spoke to lecturers at the University of Georgia and they had contacts down here and that’s how I got in contact with Louis (Schipper) and that was great.”

“I had to submit a study proposal and went to an interview. I submitted my application in October 2011 and found out I’d been accepted in May 2012 and now I’m finally here.”

“My family are very proud of me.”

His work at the University of Waikato will go towards a Post Graduate Certificate in Earth Sciences but he thinks his future lies in business applications using his science knowledge.

“I’m not cut out to be a lab guy but my background in science should help my entrepreneurial side too,” he says.

David’s enjoying living in Hamilton and has made a few trips to Raglan already and he’s looking forward to checking out some rugby action at Waikato Stadium over the coming months.
He’s also loving the weather.

“I came from the middle of winter into this so it’s great.”

Fulbright New Zealand was established in 1948 to promote mutual understanding through educational and cultural exchanges between New Zealand and the United States.

Fulbright New Zealand offers more than 70 exchange awards each year – half to students and half to scholars – and more than 1600 New Zealanders and 1300 Americans have benefited from a Fulbright award. The programme is mainly funded by the US and New Zealand governments.


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