Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"Phytoremediation of Petroleum Contaminated Soils with Horticultural Plants"

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Fall 2011 - DURI
Research area(s):
soil remediation, environmental engineering, petroleum chemistry
Project Description:
We are evaluating approximately 80 species of horticultural plants for survival in petroleum contaminated soils and remediation of the soil. The project is in cooperation with the Chicago Department of Environment and is ultimately examining the remediation and reclamation of abandoned gas stations. This multi-disciplinary project is applying principles of chemistry, plant biology, soil science, and environmental engineering.
Expected Student Contributions:
The intern will be responsible for evaluating the impact of petroleum in soil on the growth of approximately 80 species of horticultural plants and determining the ability of these species to remediate petroleum contamination. During the course of the experiment, the intern will monitor the plants at regular intervals for qualitative and quantitative growth parameters and ultimately assist in measuring the dissipation of petroleum in the soils. Data will be entered into electronic files and statistically analyzed. We have approximately 400 pots with growing plants, and the different species have a broad range of requirements including pest management, ideal soil moisture, pruning, and lighting conditions. The presence or absence of petroleum contamination adds to the complexity
Related Website(s):
Desired Qualifications:
The intern will need to have basic knowledge of botany, soils, and statistics, and a strong willingness to seek information about the proper techniques of culturing the plants. Working independently is critical. A GPA>3.0 is desirable.
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?
Yes, 3 credit hours

Professor in Charge

Schwab, Arthur

Student Supervisor

Paul Schwab

Cooperating Faculty

M. Katherine Banks
Civil Engineering/Engineering