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Three Graduate Research Assistantships

The Department of Biological Systems Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, also known as Virginia Tech (VT), is seeking applications for three Ph.D. (and/or MS) Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs) to work on a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded and a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funded wastewater treatment projects. The full assistantship to be offered covers stipend, tuition, and insurance. The starting stipend levels for Ph.D. and MS candidates are around $2,810 and $2,680 per month, respectively. The successful candidate will work in Dr. Zhiwu (Drew) Wang’s research group ( VT’s ranking in the 2023 edition of Best Colleges is National Universities is #62.

The research areas include but are not limited to bioprocessing and wastewater treatment. The three example projects to be undertaken by the candidates are listed below. There could be many other research projects for selection at the time of onboarding. Details will be discussed during video conference interview if invited.

  1. Integrating reverse A2O and anammox with arrested anaerobic digestion to reduce greenhouse emission from water resource recovery facilities
    A Ph.D. or MS student will be supported by this DOE-funded project to work together with experts from broad interdisciplinary fields to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emission in water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs). The goal of this project is to upgrade the popular five-stage Bardenpho wastewater treatment process with easy-to-apply technologies such as reverse A2O, partial denitrification-anaerobic ammonium oxidation (PdNA), and arrested anaerobic digestion (aAD), to achieve GHG emissions reduction without increasing total WRRF operating costs. The outcome from this project will collectively addresses environmental, energy, and economic challenges in a single solution. This research will be performed in a municipal wastewater treatment plant located near the Northern Virginia campus.
  1. Innovative biotechnology for the treatment of hydrothermal liquefaction wastewater
    A Ph.D. or MS student will be supported by this NSF-funded project to develop an innovative biotechnology specifically tailored for the treatment of wastewater produced along with the biofuel production from hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) of wet biomass. In recent years, the production of transportation fuels from wet biomass has received increasing attention due to its promising potential to shift society’s dependence away from petroleum to renewable biomass resources. However, the successful application of HTL technology is contingent on the efficiency and applicability of HTL wastewater treatment technologies. The biotechnology to be developed from this project differentiates itself from other competitive technologies by using aerobic granulation technology as a platform to harness fungi and bacteria for high-rate treatment with resistance to inhibitory compounds.
  2. Partial denitrification anammox technology for fishery wastewater nitrogen removal
    A Ph.D. or MS student will be supported by this USDA-funded project to improve our knowledge and understanding of how a novel partial-nitrification/denitrification and anammox (PANDA) technology can be taken advantage for reducing environmental impacts of fish production by decreasing water demand, effluent pollutants, oxygen demand, greenhouse gas emissions, as well as operational costs.

The successful candidate is expected to be creative, self-motivated, possess good research attitude, encompass dynamic problem-solving skills, and have a strong desire to solve real-world problems and collaborate in a multidisciplinary environment with both industrial and academic partners. The candidate is expected to communicate research results through high quality peer-reviewed journal and deliver presentations at national/international professional meetings. Specifically, the successful candidate
▪ Must have (or must earn prior to the application deadline) a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in chemical engineering, biological systems engineering, civil engineering, environmental engineering, or a closely related field.
▪ Demonstrated excellent scientific writing and communication skills (e.g., peer-reviewed publications, competitions, etc.).
▪ For international students, TOEFL score is required. For admission, we expect a minimum TOEFL score of 90 (IBT) or IELTS score of 6.5 for admission. GRE may be waived.

If the program is of your interest, please email Dr. Zhiwu (Drew) Wang at A full application as a single PDF document package must include (1) A statement of research addressing how your background fit in the position description and candidate qualification described above (1-page limit), (2) an update CV with a full list of publications (if any), (3) all official transcripts, (4) TOEFL or IELTS score(s) (for international candidates), and (4) three reference letters including names, emails, affiliations, and work phone numbers of the referees. The order of the documents in the combined PDF must be followed. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Please include “2024 Graduate Research Assistantship” + “Your Name” as your email subject. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the positions are filled. Interested candidates should send an enquiry email only once. Best fit potential candidates will receive the responses and video conference interviews will follow.

Successful candidate will need to apply to the Graduate School of Virginia Tech. The deadlines for admissions in Spring 2024 are September 1 (international) and January 1 (domestic), and Fall 2024 are April 1 (international) and August 1 (domestic). Please visit the website below for more details. (

Zhiwu (Drew) Wang, Ph.D., P.E.
Assistant Professor
Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech

A Postdoctoral Research Associate

Postdoctoral Research Associate – Virginia Tech

September , 2022


Job Title: Postdoctoral Research Associate

Research area: Advanced Bioprocessing

Department: Biological Systems Engineering

University: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)

Location: Blacksburg, VA


Job Description:

The position is immediately available. Review of applications will continue until the position is filled. The initial appointment will be for one year with possibility for extension based on performance. The successful candidate will closely work with Dr. Zhiwu (Drew) Wang on delivering both federal and industrial projects on the topics of advanced bioprocesses for resource recovery and pollutant removal. The successful candidate will also have opportunities to be involved in grant writings, graduate student mentoring, and project leading.


Specific job responsibilities include:

  • Conducting lab and field experiments (80%)
  • Writing project reports and research papers (10%)
  • Coordinating meetings with sponsors (10%)


Required Qualifications:

  • Ph.D. in Chemical/Environmental/Biological Engineering, or a related field.
  • Excellent writing skill and productive publication record.
  • The Ph.D. degree should have been awarded no more than four years prior to the effective date of this appointment with a minimum of one year of eligibility remaining.


Preferred Qualifications:

  1. Research experience in bioreactor design and operation.
  2. Self-motivated to lead research endeavor.
  3. Good human skill to interact with external collaborators.
  4. Desire to publish high quality research articles.


How to apply? Qualified applicants must electronically submit an online application, including a statement of research explaining how your background fits in the aforementioned expectations, a resume/curriculum vitae, and a list of 3 professional references to:


Applicant screening will continue until the position is filled. Virginia Tech is committed to building a culturally diverse faculty and strongly encourages applications from women and minorities.


Applicants may contact Dr. Zhiwu (Drew) Wang at with any questions about this position. Please include “Postdoctoral Research Associate” + “Your Name” as your email subject. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the positions are filled. Interested candidates should send an enquiry email only once. Best fit potential candidates will receive the responses and video conference interviews will follow.