It seems so bountiful that many take it for granted. Not Kevin Mumford. He understands that water is a precious resource that needs to be nurtured in order to sustain life and the societies we’ve developed around it.
Mumford, who will graduate this spring with a PhD in civil engineering, was recently recognized by his peers and colleagues with a series of awards for his work in groundwater remediation.
It began with a win at the 2008 southern Ontario graduate student presentation competition organized by the Canadian Geotechnical Society. Mumford then moved on to the national competition, which he won. Capping it off, Mumford was invited to present his doctoral research to the hydrology section of the American Geophysical Union fall meeting in San Francisco, where he was presented with an outstanding student paper award.
“It’s nice to have engineers winning communications awards,” said Mumford. “It’s important that engineers are able to communicate highly technical work.”
Mumford’s research is focused on identifying contaminants polluting groundwater and finding ways to address problems encountered. Specifically, he studies remediation of non-aqueous phase liquids, such as gasoline, PCBs, creosote, and chlorinated solvents such as degreasers and dry cleaning fluid.
“It’s about understanding the chemistry and physics of how contaminants behave,” said Mumford. “You can’t see the problem since the water is underground so you’re trying to find out what is there, how it moves and how to address it.”
Mumford credits several people at McMaster for assisting him with his research, in particular his PhD co-advisors Sarah Dickson, assistant professor of civil engineering, and Jim Smith, associate professor in the School of Geography and Earth Sciences.
“Sarah and Jim are internationally known, I was familiar with their work, and they came highly recommended,” explained Mumford on his decision to pursue PhD studies at McMaster.
Prior to enrolling for the PhD program, Mumford was working for an environmental engineering consulting firm on projects throughout North America. He earned his BASc in Environmental Engineering-Chemical Branch and Master’s of Civil Engineering from the University of Waterloo. He is currently working on an NSERC post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Western Ontario, commuting from Hamilton.
“Kevin is exceptionally talented in his communication, academic and interpersonal skills,” said Dickson. “This is a very rare combination, and both Jim and I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to supervise him.”
Mumford has his sights set on an academic career in order to combine teaching and research. While studying at McMaster, he was awarded the Graduate Student Association Teaching Assistant Excellence Award in 2005 in recognition of his contributions to undergraduate education.