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Scholar Biography

Ilgaz Çakin

Reed Bed Use Within Scotch Whisky Distilleries to Treat Wastewater: A New Toolkit to Help Maximise Performance

Project Dates: 1 October 2020 - 30 September 2024


Ilgaz is a Hydro Nation Scholar and current PhD student at the University of the Highlands and Islands, mainly based at the Environmental Research Institute, Thurso, Scotland. He completed his MSc in Industrial and Commercial Biotechnology at Newcastle University under the Country Specific Scholarship of the University; and his BSc in Molecular Biology and Genetics at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, Turkey.  During his MSc research project, he focused on algal biotechnology and researched the effect of environmental stress factors on growth, and lipid biosynthesis-related gene expression in green algae Parachlorella kessleri.

His PhD focusses on sustainable and high-performance green wastewater treatment technologies in the whisky sector of Scotland. As the need for (WWT) is increasing, wetland systems are a possible pathway to treat metal-contaminated water, with reed beds a proven system for distillery effluent, using natural ecological filters. While this is considered sustainable, a reed-bed function can be highly ‘variable’, working well in some situations but poorly elsewhere. The causes of this variability are poorly understood and measuring water quality (alone) cannot identify why a reed bed succeeds/fails. To understand this, deeper insights are needed, as these are complex systems wherein bacteria, algae, plants, etc., all act together to remove pollution. A new tool now exists that can be used to explore this, ‘metagenomic barcoding’ – which comprehensively assesses broad differences in biotic communities - allowing new links to be made between water quality, environment, community structure, and reed-bed ‘function’. This new knowledge can then allow new reed-bed solutions to be designed.