Environmental Engineering Science

Duke's research in environmental engineering science addresses the consequences of society’s production and use of energy and materials, emphasizing approaches to predicting, monitoring and managing impacts on air and water, and global cycles. In addition to activities within the Pratt School of Engineering, numerous faculty in the Nicholas School of Environment are engaged in research and teaching in this area.

Three areas of research:

Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology: Research focuses on the fate and effects of natural and anthropogenic stressors, particularly chemicals, in the environment. Ongoing research topics include: environmental implications of nanotechnology; mechanisms underlying chemical fate and transport; modeling of atmospheric transport and chemistry; molecular mechanisms of toxicity and adaptation; toxicogenomics; impacts on populations, communities and ecosystems, and environmental risk assessment.

Environmental Process Engineering: Research focuses on phenomena that govern the origin, transport, transformation and impacts of contaminants on our environment and technologies for reducing the associated risks to human health and the environment. Research includes chemical processes that affect the fate of trace metals in the environment, transport and impacts of nanomaterials, molecular biological methods to monitor and improve performance of engineered microbial systems; biodegradation of organic contaminants, development of advanced membrane processes for water treatment and reuse, energy technologies and their impacts, and the properties, measurement and effects of ambient aerosols.

Hydrology and Fluid Dynamics: Research focuses on some of the most modern open problems in environmental fluid dynamics, hydrology and water resources. Ongoing research topics include: hydrometeorology (rainfall dynamics, land-atmosphere interaction, remote sensing), eco-hydrology (impact of hydroclimatic variability on ecosystems and feedbacks on the hydrologic cycle and local climate), contaminant transport hydrology (surface-subsurface interactions), water cycle dynamics and human health, and stochastic hydrology.

Opportunities for Study

PhD, MS

Doctoral and Master of Science study in environmental engineering at Duke is highly interdisciplinary, drawing on a broad slate of faculty in the Pratt School of Engineering and the Nicholas School of the Environment. Students have considerable flexibility in crafting a graduate program that suits individual interests, but typically students specialize in one of two study tracks:

MEng

The department also offers a program of study towards the Masters of Engineering (M.Eng) in Environmental Engineering. This 30-credit degree program includes course work towards departmental requirements, an area of specialization, business and management fundamentals, and an internship or applied research experience. There are currently four areas of specialization offered within this degree program:

  • Environmental Engineering and Public Policy;
  • Environmental Process Engineering;
  • Ecohydrology and Environmental Fluid Dynamics; and
  • Environmental Nanotechnology

BSE

Undergraduates interested in environmental engineering have opportunities to study and conduct research in two BSE degree programs offered by CEE:

Primary Faculty

Ana P. Barros

Ana P. Barros

James L. Meriam Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the Edmund T. Pratt, Jr. School of Engineering

Research Interests: Physics of water cycle processes in mountainous regions with a focus on cloud formation and precipitation; remote sensing of the environment using microwave and infrared sensors; long– range predictability and risk analysis of natural hazards; computational environmental fluid mechanics and...

Michael Howard Bergin

Michael Howard Bergin

Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Interests: Aerosols are generated by a variety of natural and anthropogenic sources. I am interested in the processes that emit, transform and deposit particulate matter. A current focus of my research is how particles in the atmosphere directly modify the surface radiation balance of the Earth. This is of...

Mark Edward Borsuk

Mark Edward Borsuk

Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Interests: Mathematical models for integrating scientific information on natural, technical, and social systems; Bayesian network modeling with regular application to environmental and human health regulation and decision making; novel approaches to climate change assessment, combining risk analysis, game...

Andrew Bragg

Andrew Bragg

Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Interests: Fundamental and applied problems in fluid dynamics, especially turbulence, and its role in environmental systems.

Marc Deshusses

Marc Deshusses

Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Interests: Dr. Deshusses' broad research interests are related to the design, analysis and application of processes for the bioremediation of contaminated air, water and soils. One area of on-going research is bioreactors for air pollution control. Results from this work have resulted among others in a better...

P. Lee Ferguson

P. Lee Ferguson

Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Interests: Environmental analytical chemistry and applications of high resolution mass spectrometry to trace organic contaminant analysis, environmental fate and effects of carbon nanomaterials in the aquatic environment, proteomics in environmental toxicology, and mechanisms of environmental endocrine...

Claudia K. Gunsch

Claudia K. Gunsch

Theodore Kennedy Associate Professor

Research Interests: Identifying genetic adaptation mechanisms resulting from anthropogenic contaminant exposure; developing biosensors capable of pathogen and contaminant detection in water and air; studying the impact of emerging contaminants on aquatic microbial ecology; and the development of novel techniques for...

Heileen Hsu-Kim

Heileen Hsu-Kim

Mary Milus Yoh and Harold L. Yoh, Jr. Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Interests: Aquatic chemistry and geochemistry, trace element environmental chemistry, nanogeoscience, mercury biogeochemistry, water-particle surface processes.

Zbigniew J. Kabala

Zbigniew J. Kabala

Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Interests: Stochastic and deterministic theory of fluid flow and contaminant transport in saturated and unsaturated heterogeneous porous media, theory of related measurements, field and laboratory studies in subsurface hydrogeology, stochastic fields and processes, numerical and analytical methods and...

Marco Marani

Marco Marani

Professor of Eco-hydrology

Research Interests: My research interests include: understanding, through observations and modelling how the interaction between vegetation species and erosion/deposition processes leads to observed intertidal landforms, vegetation patterns, and biodiversity; development of an observational and a modelling...

J. Jeffrey Peirce

J. Jeffrey Peirce

Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Interests: Environmental engineering, cyberinfrastructure networks, sensors, geotropospheric interactions, engineering systems optimization. Professor Jeffrey Peirce has been a member of the environmental engineering faculty in the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University for 28 years. He received his...

Amilcare Porporato

Amilcare Porporato

Addy Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Interests: Near-wall turbulence, nonlinear analysis of hydrologic time series, stochastic soil moisture dynamics and water balance, soil-atmosphere interaction, and ecohydrology, complexity in the environment, sustainable use of soil and water resources.

David E. Schaad

David E. Schaad

Professor of the Practice of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Interests: Current research focuses on sustainable engineering, community development, water and wastewater treatment design, stormwater retention/detention and treatment design, hazardous waste remediation, urban hydrology, constructed wetland and stream restoration design, ecological stabilization,...

Mark Wiesner

Mark Wiesner

James B. Duke Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Interests: Membrane processes, nanostructured materials, transport and fate of nanomaterials in the environment, colloidal and interfacial processes, and environmental systems analysis

Secondary Faculty

Richard T. Di Giulio

Richard T. Di Giulio

Professor of Environmental Toxicology

Martin Doyle

Martin Doyle

Professor in the Environmental Sciences and Policy Division

Research Interests: River processes (hydraulics, hydrology, sediment transport, ecology) River policy (Clean Water Act, hydropower relicensing, large river management)

Peter K. Haff

Peter K. Haff

Professor Emeritus

James Hench

James Hench

Associate Professor of Oceanography

Research Interests: Environmental fluid mechanics, shallow-water physical oceanography, physical-biological interactions in marine environments, and marine technology

David E. Hinton

David E. Hinton

Nicholas Professor of Environmental Quality

Dana E. Hunt

Dana E. Hunt

Assistant Professor of Microbial Ecology

Marc A. Jeuland

Marc A. Jeuland

Assistant Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy

Prasad S. Kasibhatla

Prasad S. Kasibhatla

Professor in the Division of Environmental Sciences and Policy

Research Interests: Atmospheric chemistry, Regional and Global Modeling and Atmospheric chemical data analysis

Gabriel G. Katul

Gabriel G. Katul

Theodore S. Coile Professor of Hydrology and Micrometeorology

Research Interests: Micrometeorology and surface hydrology, Carbon and water cycling, and Environmental fluid dynamics

Mukesh Kumar

Mukesh Kumar

Assistant Professor of Watershed Hydrology in the Division of Environmental Sciences and Policy

Wenhong Li

Wenhong Li

Associate Professor of Climate

Research Interests: Dr. Li's research interests focus primarily on climate dynamics, land-atmosphere interaction, hydroclimatology, and climate modeling. Her current research is to understand how the hydrological cycle changes in the current and future climate and their impacts on the ecosystems, subtropical high...

Joel Meyer

Joel Meyer

Associate Professor of Environmental Genomics in the Division of Environmental Sciences and Policy

Ram Oren

Ram Oren

Nicholas Professor of Earth Systems Science

Curtis J. Richardson

Curtis J. Richardson

John O. Blackburn Professor

Research Interests: Dr. Richardson's research interests are in the area of applied ecology and are centered on wetlands ecology and restoration. The objectives of his research are to utilize ecological principles to develop new approaches to environmental problem solving. The goal of his research is to provide...

Heather M. Stapleton

Heather M. Stapleton

Dan and Bunny Gabel Associate Professor of Environmental Ethics and Sustainable Environmental Management

Avner Vengosh

Avner Vengosh

Professor of Earth and Ocean Sciences

Adjunct Faculty

John D. Albertson

John D. Albertson

Adjunct Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Interests: Surface hydrology and boundary layer meteorology; semi-arid vegetation dynamics; Large eddy simulation of turbulence and turbulent transport; urban air quality; hydroclimatic controls on infectious disease dynamics.

Melanie Auffan

Melanie Auffan

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Jean-Yves Bottero

Jean-Yves Bottero

Adjunct Professor

Research Interests: Physical chemistry of organic, inorganic, and heterogeneous contaminants; physicochemical properties of surfaces; mechanisms of coagulation and flocculation; water and wastewater treatment

Douglas K. Miller

Douglas K. Miller

Adjunct Professor

Stefano Orlandini

Stefano Orlandini

Adjunct Associate Professor

Research Interests: Terrain analysis. Surface flow propagation. Surface-subsurface flow interaction. Flood protective measures. Flood control reservoirs. Wildlife impact on earthen dams and levees.

Desiree Louise Plata

Desiree Louise Plata

Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Interests: The focus of my work is on improving the development of novel chemicals and engineered systems to include environmental objectives, along with traditional performance and cost metrics. In particular, I seek to (1) predict and mitigate environmental damage through physiochemical understanding of...

James R. Rigby

James R. Rigby

Research Assistant, Ph D Student

Jerome C. Rose

Jerome C. Rose

Adjunct Associate Professor

Research Interests: Relation between nanostructure of materials and their reactivity and toxicity. Characterization of the structure of ultra-small (colloids and molecular clusters), and/or amorphous and highly divided materials down to the molecular scale.

Daniel Vallero

Daniel Vallero

Adjunct Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Interests: Measurement and modeling research in environmental systems, including high throughput risk screening, tracer studies, development of pollution collection devices, and biosystem engineering. Life cycle analysis and sustainable design.