From VT News

BLACKSBURG, Va., May 11, 2015 – Amy Pruden, associate dean for interdisciplinary graduate education in the Graduate School and professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, received a best paper award for 2014 from the journal Environmental Science and Technology (ES&T).

Her paper, “Balancing Water Sustainability and Public Health Goals in the Face of Growing Concerns about Antibiotic Resistance” was named the top paper in the feature section.

Pruden’s paper discussed how “global initiatives are underway to advance the sustainability of urban water infrastructure through measures such as water reuse.” The paper noted how efforts on the part of engineers could advance sustainable water strategies and help avoid unintended consequences for public health.

Her paper was chosen from more than 1,700 papers that ES&T published in 2014. “Our best papers exemplify ES&T’s commitment to publishing research that makes a difference,” stated David L. Sedlak, editor-in-chief.

Pruden’s research involves applying environmental microbiology to solving environmental engineering problems. These include water sustainability and its balance with concerns such as antimicrobial resistance, emerging contaminants, opportunistic pathogens, and environmental implications of nanotechnology.

Her focus on antibiotic resistance emphasizes the role of on antibiotic resistance genes. She brings in environmental engineering tools to understand the fate and transport of these genes in the environment and their impact on water treatment options. The research suggests that standard pathogen inactivation imposed by water and wastewater treatment may not be sufficient to protect public health. Technologies that remove or destroy drug-resistant DNA may be necessary.

Pruden earned her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and a Ph.D. in environmental science from University of Cincinnati. She is widely recognized for her research with numerous awards, including: the CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering from the Executive Office of the President of the United States and a Virginia Tech College of Engineering Faculty Fellow award.