Published December 17, 2019
Carla Ng has been awarded a $500k NSF CAREER Award. She graduated from the University at Buffalo, CBE with a BS in 2001 and MS in 2003, before going to Northwestern University and receiving a PhD in Chemical and Biological Engineering, 2008.
Alumna Carla Ng, BS 2001, MS 2003, is currently an assistant professor of environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering. Her research focuses on per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), manmade chemicals that are useful in a variety of industries because of their durability, but do not naturally break down in the environment or human body. With evidence showing that PFAS may have adverse effects on human health, Carla Ng wants to further investigate the potential impacts of these chemicals and identify ways to remove them from the environment. She received a five-year, $500,000 NSF CAREER award to pursue this research.
The NSF CAREER award is “National Science Foundation's most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.”
Because of their useful oil- and water-repellent properties, PFAS are used in many consumer products, industrial processes and in firefighting foams, but unfortunately, their manufacturing and widespread use has contributed to the release of these chemicals into the environment. According to Ng, more than 4,000 different kinds of PFAS may have been for decades, and detailed toxicity data does not exist for the large majority of these. The goal of Ng’s CAREER award is to address these issues through a complementary approach using predictive modeling and experiments.