Claudia K. Gunsch


Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Claudia Gunsch is the Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement, providing leadership in the area of faculty advancement, including providing support for faculty and academic units as they work to develop policies, programs, and practices in response to the recent campus climate survey. She plays a key role in developing strategies to strengthen Duke’s efforts to ensure an inclusive and respectful environment where faculty, students, and staff can thrive and excel.

Dr. Gunsch is the Theodore S. Kennedy Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and holds secondary appointments in the Nicholas School of the Environment and the Department of Biomedical Engineering. She has been recognized for her research, teaching and service activities with a number of awards, including the 2009 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award, 2013 Langford Lectureship Award, 2016 Capers and Marion McDonald Award for Excellence in Mentoring and Advising, and the 2016 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize. In addition, she was named a Bass Fellow in 2016. Dr. Gunsch earned her B.S. from Purdue University, her M.S. from Clemson University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Gunsch’s research focuses characterizing and engineering environmental microbiomes. Students and postdoctoral associates in her group apply fundamental concepts from the fields of microbiology, genomics and bioinformatics to environmental engineering applications. Current research projects focus on exploring ballast water microbiomes, exploring correlations between microbial adaptation and evolution stemming from their exposure to contaminants, characterizing the fate of genetically modified crop transgenes, developing genetic bioaugmentation technologies for improving the bioremediation efficacy of recalcitrant contaminants and developing innovative water treatment technologies for industrial and developing world applications.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Associate Dean for Research and Infrastructure in the Pratt School of Engineering
  • Secondary Associate Professor in the Division of Environmental Science and Policy
  • Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering
  • Faculty Network Member of The Energy Initiative

Contact Information


  • Ph.D. University of Texas, Austin, 2004
  • M.S. Clemson University, 2000
  • B.S. Purdue University, 1998

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 controlling pathogen proliferation

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program. National Science Foundation. 2009
  • NSF Graduate Fellowship. National Science Foundation. 1999

Courses Taught

  • CEE 493: Research Independent Study in Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • CEE 566: Environmental Microbiology
  • CEE 690: Advanced Topics in Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • CEE 691: Independent Study: Advanced Topics in Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • CEE 692: Independent Study: Advanced Topics in Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • EGR 79S: Thrive
  • ENVIRON 899: Master's Project

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Varner, PM; Gunsch, CK, Properties affecting transfer and expression of degradative plasmids for the purpose of bioremediation., Biodegradation, vol 32 no. 4 (2021), pp. 361-375 [10.1007/s10532-021-09950-1] [abs].
  • Redfern, LK; Jayasundara, N; Singleton, DR; Di Giulio, RT; Carlson, J; Sumner, SJ; Gunsch, CK, The role of gut microbial community and metabolomic shifts in adaptive resistance of Atlantic killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons., The Science of the Total Environment, vol 776 (2021) [10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.145955] [abs].
  • Crous, PW; Cowan, DA; Maggs-Kölling, G; Yilmaz, N; Thangavel, R; Wingfield, MJ; Noordeloos, ME; Dima, B; Brandrud, TE; Jansen, GM; Morozova, OV; Vila, J; Shivas, RG; Tan, YP; Bishop-Hurley, S; Lacey, E; Marney, TS; Larsson, E; Le Floch, G; Lombard, L; Nodet, P; Hubka, V; Alvarado, P; Berraf-Tebbal, A; Reyes, JD; Delgado, G; Eichmeier, A; Jordal, JB; Kachalkin, AV; Kubátová, A; Maciá-Vicente, JG; Malysheva, EF; Papp, V; Rajeshkumar, KC; Sharma, A; Spetik, M; Szabóová, D; Tomashevskaya, MA; Abad, JA; Abad, ZG; Alexandrova, AV; Anand, G; Arenas, F; Ashtekar, N; Balashov, S; Bañares, ; Baroncelli, R; Bera, I; Yu. Biketova, A; Blomquist, CL; Boekhout, T; Boertmann, D; Bulyonkova, TM; Burgess, TI; Carnegie, AJ; Cobo-Diaz, JF; Corriol, G; Cunnington, JH; Da Cruz, MO; Damm, U; Davoodian, N; Desantiago, A; Dearnaley, J; De Freitas, LWS; Dhileepan, K; Dimitrov, R; Di Piazza, S; Fatima, S; Fuljer, F; Galera, H; Ghosh, A; Giraldo, A; Glushakova, AM; Gorczak, M; Gouliamova, DE; Gramaje, D; Groenewald, M; Gunsch, CK; Gutiérrez, A; Holdom, D; Houbraken, J; Ismailov, AB; Istel, ; Iturriaga, T; Jeppson, M; Jurjević, ; Kalinina, LB; Kapitonov, VI; Kautmanová, I; Khalid, AN; Kiran, M; Kiss, L; Kovács, ; Kurose, D; Kušan, I; Lad, S; Læssøe, T; Lee, HB; Luangsa-Ard, JJ, Fungal planet description sheets: 1182-1283, Persoonia, vol 46 (2021), pp. 313-528 [10.3767/persoonia.2021.46.11] [abs].
  • Kim, YJ; Womble, JT; Gunsch, CK; Ingram, JL, The Gut/Lung Microbiome Axis in Obesity, Asthma, and Bariatric Surgery: A Literature Review., Obesity (Silver Spring), vol 29 no. 4 (2021), pp. 636-644 [10.1002/oby.23107] [abs].
  • McCumber, AW; Kim, YJ; Isikhuemhen, OS; Tighe, RM; Gunsch, CK, The environment shapes swine lung bacterial communities., The Science of the Total Environment, vol 758 (2021) [10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.143623] [abs].

Additional Information

Honors and Awards

  • University of Texas Graduate Engineering Council Travel Award (2001, 2002 and 2003)
  • University of Texas THRUST 2000 Fellowship (2000-2004)
  • University of Texas Bruton Fellowship (2000-2004)
  • University of Texas Environmental Engineering Departmental Fellowship (2001)
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship (1999-2004)
  • 1999 EPA STAR Masters Student Graduate Fellowship (Declined, Accepted the NSF Fellowship)
  • Clemson University Environmental Engineering and Science Departmental Fellowship (1999)
  • Clemson University Alumni Fellowship (1998)
  • General Motors Scholarship (1998)
  • Purdue Engineering Student Council Scholarship (1996 and 1997)
  • Society of Women in Engineering Scholarship (1995)

Professional and Service Activities

  • Chi Epsilon
  • Phi Sigma Pi
  • Phi Eta Sigma
  • Alpha Lambda Delta
  • American Society of Microbiology (1999-Current)
  • American Chemical Society (1999-Current)
  • Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (1999-Current)
  • American Society for Engineering Education (2001-Current)