CBE Graduate Student Spotlight - Konna Zoga

By Elizabeth Jackson

Meet Konna Zoga, a graduate student in the University of Iowa College of Engineering Chemical Engineering Department!

Paraskevi Konstantina Zoga, also known as Konna, was born and grew up in Athens, Greece. Konna holds a five year joint degree (BSC and Masters) in Chemical Engineering from the University of Patras, Greece. Konna’s research was focused on the Olive Mill wastewater treatment. During Konna’s undergraduate studies she had her first industrial internship in the ‘Aluminum of Greece SA’. Konna also had a traineeship as a research assistant focused in water management at the Department of Civil Engineering at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

 

How did you choose the UI for your graduate studies?

I was looking into graduate study programs in the United States and heard about the University of Iowa from two alumni at my home university. With their help, I gained great insight into the program, research, and life in Iowa. Apart from this, my personal research convinced me that the UI had a top ranked program, world-class research facilities, and small class sizes.

 

What professor are you working with and what is your research focused in?

I’m a member of Dr. Nuxoll’s research lab and our research focuses on innovative treatment for bacterial biofilms on medical implants. Biofilms infect hundreds of thousands of patients in the US annually are resistant to common antibiotic treatments. The standard of care requires surgical replacement of the infected device leading to greater financial cost and impaired quality of life for patients. In our research group we suggest that delivering remotely heat to the infected surface could thermally kill the bacteria and eliminate the infection in a more effective and less invasive way than current pieces. So far, we have extensively studied the thermal treatment of biofilms in vitro but with my project we aim to make the next step and study this method with in vivo experiments

 

What are your post-graduation plans?

I don’t have a complete answer for this question yet since the professional potentials for the graduates of this program are countless. During my staying here I try to stay open-minded and learn about professional paths I don’t even have in mind. At the moment, my plan is to gain professional experience in the US and pursue a career in the large-scale biotech industry in the Research & Development area. What’s most important for me is to find a way to apply Chemical Engineering for improving human life and solving real life problems.

 

Piece of advice for first year graduate students?

First, I would advise them to be patient since the first year is the most demanding one. Keeping up with classes, TAs, and trying to define our research project makes it quite challenging. Especially for the international students like me, the factors of homesickness and adjustments to a new lifestyle, adds an extra challenge. I would advise them to stay open minded, both with classes and research areas. What we think is interesting, useful, or relevant might change quite often during our PhD.

 

What’s your favorite thing about Iowa City?

What I like most is that there is a perfect combination of urban and natural scenery. I love the fact that within an hour, I can go from the bustling downtown area to a number of fantastic natural attractions. Now I understand why Iowa City is routinely ranked among the best places to live in the US.