Pamuru Wins CREF Scholarship

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Sai Thejaswini Pamuru.

Sai Thejaswini Pamuru, a doctoral candidate in the University of Maryland’s (UMD) Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has been selected for a scholarship from the Compost Research & Education Foundation that will help support her research.

Pamuru, whose advisors are Dr. Ahmet H. Aydilek and Dr. Allen P. Davis, is examining the synergistic effectiveness of compost-biochar mixtures in reducing nitrogen and phosphorus leaching, and in improving vegetation growth and quality. Her study takes a holistic approach to understanding the effects of compost-biochar mixtures on the physical and chemical behaviors of soils, water quality, and vegetation establishment. This study is one of the early efforts in evaluating biochar—and compost-amended soils in a large mesocosm experiment with slope considerations, mimicking roadside embankments. 

Given the concerns associated with composts (water quality) and wood-derived biochar (vegetative health), the study hypothesizes that a mixture of the two can improve soil fertility, plant uptake of nutrients, and soil hydraulic properties, all while minimizing nutrient losses to infiltrated or surface waters. The findings are expected to help delineate practicable recommendations by promoting the safe use of Organic Amendments in roadside projects while updating current specifications on soil nutrients. A comparative field evaluation of organic amendments-based products and traditional stormwater management control measures, such as topsoil, will be made available to engineers, scientists, and landscapers.

The Compost Research & Education Foundation offers annual scholarships to university students to assist with their compost research projects. The scholarship is available for undergraduate through PhD students studying at a college or university in the United States. The scholarship is for $4,000, and also includes an invitation to present research findings at a U.S. Composting Council Annual Conference during a CREF research session. Travel expenses are included.


Published July 13, 2023