Alumni Spotlight June 2020: Oliver Grasham

Our monthly spotlight on the work and lives of the next generation of water@leeds researchers.
This month we introduce Oliver Grasham
PhD: Assessment of novel utilisation pathways for biogas and nitrogenous waste streams at wastewater treatment plants
School: School of Chemical and Process Engineering
Supervisors :Valerie Dupont, Miller Alonso Camargo-Valero, Timothy Cockerill
Tell us a bit about yourself…

I grew up in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire and moved to Leeds in 2011 after taking a gap year to work and travel. I knew from a fairly young age that I wanted to build a career addressing climate change and studied BSc Environmental Science in the School of Earth and Environment where I was fortunate to split my final-year dissertation with the School of Chemical and Process Engineering.

Why did you choose Leeds University? 

I chose Leeds for undergraduate study (over a decade ago) due to a ‘gut’ feeling when visiting the campus alongside the esteem I held for the University’s Environmental Science degree. However, much of the reason for staying and applying to undertake a PhD within the Bioenergy CDT was due to the encouragement of my dissertation supervisors Valerie Dupont and Julia Steinberger.

 What is your research about? 

The basis of my PhD was to assess whether wastewater treatment could become more sustainable by recovering ammonia from waste streams to act as an energy vector alongside biomethane. This manifested in two main processes: 1) H2 production 2) combined heat and power via solid oxide fuel cells. 

What did you wish you knew before starting a PhD? 

How important conferences are knowledge building and what fantastic opportunities they provide to meet new people and visit interesting places.

What are your plans for the future?

Well… I am still at the University, almost 9 years after walking up Parkinson Steps as a fresh-faced-fresher. I’m working as a post-doc and in 9 more years I hope to be the one providing the confidence to undergraduates to apply for post-graduate degrees, just as my supervisors did all those years ago.

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