Claudia K. Gunsch


Theodore Kennedy Associate Professor

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

  • Theodore Kennedy Associate Professor
  • Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental 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 at 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

  • BME 565L: Environmental Molecular Biotechnology (GE, MC)
  • CEE 566: Environmental Microbiology
  • CEE 661L: Environmental Molecular Biotechnology (GE, MC)
  • CEE 690: Advanced Topics in Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • CEE 691: Independent Study: Advanced Topics in Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • EGR 79S: Thrive
  • ENVIRON 899: Master's Project

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Gerhard, WA; Gunsch, CK, Microbiome composition and implications for ballast water classification using machine learning., The Science of the Total Environment, vol 691 (2019), pp. 810-818 [10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.07.053] [abs].
  • Redfern, LK; Gardner, CM; Hodzic, E; Ferguson, PL; Hsu-Kim, H; Gunsch, CK, A new framework for approaching precision bioremediation of PAH contaminated soils., Journal of Hazardous Materials (2019) [10.1016/j.jhazmat.2019.120859] [abs].
  • Farner Budarz, J; Cooper, EM; Gardner, C; Hodzic, E; Ferguson, PL; Gunsch, CK; Wiesner, MR, Chlorpyrifos degradation via photoreactive TiO2 nanoparticles: Assessing the impact of a multi-component degradation scenario., Journal of Hazardous Materials, vol 372 (2019), pp. 61-68 [10.1016/j.jhazmat.2017.12.028] [abs].
  • Volkoff, SJ; McCumber, AW; Anderson, DJ; Gunsch, CK, Antibiotic-resistant bacteria on personal devices in hospital intensive care units: Molecular approaches to quantifying and describing changes in the bacterial community of personal mobile devices., Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol, vol 40 no. 6 (2019), pp. 717-720 [10.1017/ice.2019.56] [abs].
  • Lefevre, E; Redfern, L; Cooper, EM; Stapleton, HM; Gunsch, CK, Acetate promotes microbial reductive debromination of tetrabromobisphenol A during the startup phase of anaerobic wastewater sludge bioreactors., The Science of the Total Environment, vol 656 (2019), pp. 959-968 [10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.11.403] [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)