Peng Zhang

“My research directly supports the CRESP project of the near surface disposal of low-level waste at the DOE Hanford site”

During her senior year of undergraduate study, Peng Zhang participated in a research project at Shanghai Academy of Environmental Science studying soil remediation technology for heavy metal contamination. This research developed her interest in environmental cleanup and risk assessment, and also revealed the growing opportunities in this field. The environmental engineering program at Vanderbilt University addressed her specific interest in research opportunities with an emphasis on risk assessment.

Peng’s research focuses on evaluating the performance of the cementitious waste forms and their interaction with the environment. She characterizes the properties of waste forms aged in different environmental conditions and studies the retention of specific constituents in the cementitious matrix. Her research also include developing models for pore water transport and salt redistribution within the material which can be coupled with current transport models to project the lab results into the long-term performance of the waste forms applied under different disposal scenarios.

“My research directly supports the CRESP project of the near surface disposal of low-level waste at the DOE Hanford site,” said Peng. “Generating experimental datasets of the waste characteristics and developing modeling tools for chemical speciation and transport helps improve our understanding of waste form performances under certain applied environmental conditions, and thus reduces the uncertainty in predicting the contaminant environmental fate and transport.”

Peng is advised by Dr. David Kosson, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Engineering and CRESP Principal Investigator. “Dr. Kosson is deeply knowledgeable not only in the field of environmental engineering, but also in other related fields such as chemical engineering and uncertainty analysis,” added Peng. “I benefit from his knowledge and experiences during our discussions about research pathways and outcomes.” Dr. Kevin Brown and Dr. Andrew Garrabrants, both being research professors in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, also support Peng’s research, particularly with their expertise in modeling and experimental design.

Peng’s goal is to move on to a career in environmental engineering, specifically in the fields of environmental risk assessment, environmental remediation and waste disposal. When not working on her research and studying, Peng likes to travel, play the ukulele, violin, and keyboards… plus play badminton.

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