UW-Stevens Point hydrology student wins National Science Foundation award
For the Gazette
STEVENS POINT – Hannah Lukasik is passionate about the environment, recycling, clean water, social justice and “all things green.”
“Clean drinking water should be a right, so knowing what is in water is really important,” said the senior, majoring in fisheries and water resources-hydrology and Spanish at the UW-Stevens Point.
That passion helped Lukasik win a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Award.
She will do graduate work in microplastics at the University of Nevada-Reno after completing her UW-Stevens Point studies this summer.
The National Science Foundation award recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. The five-year fellowship includes three years of financial support including an annual stipend of $34,000 and education allowance of $12,000 to the institution.
Lukasik is the first UW-Stevens Point student since 2017 to win this award. She will do a U.S.-Mexico cross-border research project on microplastics in aquatic systems to determine impacts on community and environmental health, working with Research Assistant Professor Monica Arienzo of UN-Reno.
“I want to help diverse communities have access to clean drinking water,” said Lukasik. “This is like achieving my biggest goal right out of college.”
Lukasik has been involved in water quality testing for human waste, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, organic compounds, caffeine, and artificial sweeteners.
“It really opened my eyes to what could be in our drinking water. So much of the country relies on well water,” she said.
In one research project, Lukasik tested for artificial sweetener Acesulfame potassium in septic systems and lakes. It is used to predict human impact and the presence of phosphorus, which accelerates growth of algae and weeds that rob water bodies of oxygen needed for healthy aquatic systems. The sweetener was found in all 12 lakes in six counties studied.