For his work on wetland and stream restoration, François Birgand, NC State associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering, won an Internationalization Seed Grant from the NC State Office of Global Engagement and the Committee on International Programs.
He was one of five faculty from across the university who received grants, which are designed to “foster meaningful, collaborative, global scholarship and engagement,” according to the university announcement.
An environmental engineer who earned his doctoral degree in biological and agricultural engineering from NC State, Birgand conducts research in a number of areas including the impacts of land use changes on hydrology and water quality, on wetland and stream monitoring, restoration and modeling.
He’ll focus his seed grant research on stream restoration in particular.
“These stream restorations are providing benefits on the ecological side of things, but on the quantitative side, no one has really been able to show that they do. But we just did! We now need to know why,” Birgand says. “Streams are very complicated systems because most of the water and pollutants flow in a very little amount at a time, usually following rainfall events. There are now new techniques able to capture flow and concentrations every 15 minutes, so it allows us to see, to have the full story, the full picture, and this is why we were able to see what others could not.”
Birgand has several collaborators on his projects, including Stefan Krause of the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, who specializes in using smart metabolic tracers to identify and quantify processes in streams, and particularly at the sediment-water interface.
Birgand plans to visit Krause to start writing a proposal for a new project together, and his recent seed grant makes that travel possible.
“It’s really a win-win situation because he’s got techniques that are highly complementary to the ones we’ve developed here, so everyone benefits,” Birgand says.