Vasiliki Karanikola

Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of Arizona
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Faculty Fellow 2017-2018

Vicky Karanikola devotes her efforts to finding solutions to the growing challenge of water scarcity. Both at work and in her volunteer efforts, she works to develop and improve water treatment methods for some of the most at-risk and underserved people on the planet.

As an assistant research professor at the Chemical and Environmental Engineering department at the University of Arizona (UA), she continues the research she pursued as a Ph.D. and postdoctoral research associate. This work focuses on water desalination through hybrid thermal processes (membrane distillation), and nanofiltration (NF). Much of her work is focused on providing off-the-grid solutions for safe and clean water to marginalized communities that are not connected to a water distribution system, such as communities of the Navajo Nation.

In addition to her academic career, Karanikola is deeply committed to Engineers Without Borders (EWB), an organization that works on engineering projects in developing communities. She serves as the advisor of the UA EWB chapter that is currently involved in an irrigation project in the Apache Reservation and the Dominican Republic and as a Vice president of the EWB Mountain Region Steering Committee.

Karanikola has an interdisciplinary engineering background combining a BS in Mechanical Engineering, an MSc degree in Civil Engineering, and both MSc and Ph.D. degrees in Environmental Engineering from UA. Prior to her graduate studies, she worked in the construction industry for three years as a mechanical engineer, leading her to graduate school for a civil engineering degree researching ballast water and possible treatment for mitigation of species invasion in ocean waters.

Current work as the Haury Faculty Fellow

“The Haury Program faculty fellowship will serve as support to my goal of becoming a strong researcher in the field of water resources and to continue my commitment to developing environmental engineering water treatment projects for marginalized communities at environmental risk in the American southwest.”

Karanikola is using the Haury Program funding to scale up laboratory membrane-based technologies for field use in mobile solar membrane treatment stations on the Navajo Nation. During the 2017-2018 academic year, the UA Chemical Engineering Department is leveraging Karanikola’s Haury Program funding to allow her to complete a research fellowship at Yale University, where she is being trained to synthesize and perform surface modification of membranes for membrane processes at the water-energy nexus, learn new skills and expand her professional network.