Wastewater analyst

Veronica works for Cel Analytical analyzing potable, recreational, and waste water. She shared her insights about her work and education.

What biotechnology program did you attend?

What degree/certificate are you working towards? 
Associate of Applied Science, Biotechnology

What do you do for your job?
I perform Potable, Recreational, and Wastewater testing for bacteria and some inorganic chemistry assays following the EPA's (Environmental Protection Agency) requirements towards Environmental Monitoring/Protection.

What are some techniques that you commonly use?

  • aseptic technique
  • perform serial dilutions
  • calibrate and perform QC for incubators
  • weigh chemicals with analytical balances
  • autoclaving
  • prepare media, solutions and buffers
  • inoculate media
  • report results according to the EPA standards
  • run assays from start to finish according to the SOP (standard operating procedure)

Please describe what you do in an average day
The day usually starts with calibrating the pH meter so I can go ahead and start preparing selective media for Total and Fecal Coliform tests. Once the media is prepared and the pH is adjusted, it is autoclaved and ready to receive the samples.

An assay for fecal and total coliforms is done following the multiple tube fermentation technique (by Standard Methods for water analyses by American Public Health Association).  Serial dilutions of E.coli are performed to act as positive controls and different aliquots of the samples are added to the media. The samples are then incubated for 24h and scored. Statistically, the results are reported in the system and the test is done.

I also perform a variety of other assays, such as assays for Chromium Hexavalent trace metals, Total Suspended and Dissolved Solids, Nitrate ions, Hardness among other tests following SOP's written based on the Requirements of EPA.

What advice would you give someone who is interested in a biotech career?
If you have the will, study hard and dedicate yourself to learn the basics to keep on going.
Think about the fact that whichever portion of a biotech work you do, is a huge step and contribution to science, thus the development and enhancement of our lives.Responsibility and dedication are my main advice.

Is there anything you'd like to add?
It is very important that a student focus in a particular field of work in biotech in order to develop the skills needed for that particular area. Expertise is really important to frame your resume and help out in the job searching process. 

Also, network as much as you can so people will remember you and the job opportunities will increase.

  • The autoclave and incubator
  • Making media
  • Media preparation
  • Cadmium column for measuring nitrate reduction
  • Spectrophotometer
  • ICP for metal detection