Research

EWR Faculty Research Interests and Activities

The Environmental and Water Resources Engineering Program offers research opportunities in a broad range of environmental and water resources areas. Below is a list of faculty members and their research interests and activities.

Dr. Charles Bott

Director of Water Technology and Research, Hampton Roads Sanitation District
Adjunct Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, VT

Research interests: Municipal and industrial wastewater treatment; advanced water treatment and potable reuse, physical-chemical and biological treatment processes.

Research activities:

  1. Advanced water treatment processes for potable reuse
  2. Biological nutrient removal processes
  3. Aerobic granular sludge processes
  4. Advanced process control systems – sensors and automation
  5. Thermal hydrolysis, co-digestion, and other digestion enhancements
  6. Chemical and biological phosphorus removal, including emerging sidestream mixed liquor fermentation biological phosphorus removal processes
  7. Sidestream and mainstream deammonification/shortcut nitrogen removal (anammox)
  8. Nutrient recovery    
  9. Environmental microbiology and biotechnology
  10. Biological and physical-chemical removal of emerging contaminants
  11. Water quality
  12. Biogas conditioning and energy recovery

Dr. Andrea Dietrich

Lab: Durham 481

Research interests: Human exposure at the air-water interface; drinking water quality and treatment; environmental analytical chemistry.

Research activities:

  1. Fate, transport, and human exposure to organic and inorganic chemicals in air, water, biota 
  2. Chemosensory analysis of environmental contaminants and tastes-and-odors in drinking water
  3. Assessing the role of aqueous metals in human nutrition and toxicity
  4. Consumer satisfaction with drinking water quality

Dr. Randy Dymond

Lab:  Patton 310

Research interests: Urban stormwater and hydrology; watershed management; land use change impacts; GIS.

Research activities:

  1. Urban stormwater hydrology
  2. Watershed master planning and geospatial analysis
  3. Low impact development and Best Management Practices (BMPs)
  4. MS4 compliance and illicit discharges in urban environment
  5. Software development for BMP selection and runoff reduction
  6. Sustainable land development
  7. Thermal and erosion pollution potential GIS modelling
  8. Analysis of Trends in U.S. stormwater utility & fee systems

Dr. Marc Edwards

Labs:  Durham 483, Patton 7, Hancock 206, ICTAS II

Research interests: Water treatment; corrosion; arsenic removal; applied aquatic chemistry.

Research activities:

  1. Corrosion and water quality in potable water distribution systems
  2. Microbial growth in premise plumbing and distribution systems
  3. Metals leaching to water supplies from plumbing (especially copper/lead)
  4. Public health impacts of metal leaching
  5. Energy-water-public health nexus in building hot water systems
  6. Engineering and science ethics

Dr. Hosein Foroutan

Lab: Norris 202

Group Website:  http://www.airflows.beam.vt.edu

Research interests: Environmental and Geophysical Fluid Mechanics, Atmospheric Science and Climate Dynamics, Air Quality and Human Health, Turbulence and Turbulent Flows

Research activities:

  1. Numerical simulation of environmental and geophysical flow systems
  2. Multi-scale multi-pollutant air quality modelling
  3. Long-range transport of particles in the atmosphere
  4. Momentum/heat/mass exchange at the air-sea interface
  5. Physical processes governing emissions of air pollutants  

Dr. Daniel Gallagher

Lab: Durham 395

Research interests: Environmental statistics and data analysis; risk assessment; food safety; contaminant fate and transportation; environmental modelling and simulation.

Research activities:

  1. Exposure analysis from the crude MCHM spill in drinking water
  2. Risk assessment for Shiga toxin producing E. coli in beef
  3. Use of customer complaints as early warning systems for contamination
  4. Developing a Markov Chain model to describe retail deli worker behaviour
  5. Analysis of face reader technology to describe emotional impacts of food
  6. Canonical correlation analysis of drinking water quality with home-owner perceptions.

Dr. Adil Godrej

Lab: Occoquan Watershed Monitoring Laboratory, 9048 Prince William Street, Manassas, VA (Northern VA area), Co-Director

Group website owml.vt.edu 

Research interests: Environmental modelling and simulation; nonpoint pollution monitoring and control; watershed, lake and reservoir management; water reuse.

Research activities:

  1. Monitoring water quality in rapidly-urbanizing watersheds
  2. Measurement of nutrient dynamics in water bodies
  3. Characterization of BMP effectiveness
  4. Water quality modelling of watersheds and reservoirs
  5. Application of water quality modelling to climate change
  6. Water and wastewater treatment processes as they relate to watershed stream health

Dr. Stanley Grant

Lab:  Occoquan Watershed Monitoring Laboratory, 9048 Prince William Street, Manassas, VA (Northern VA area), Co-Director

Group website owml.vt.edu 

Research interests: Water supply and water quality; environmental fate and transport modeling; coupled human-natural systems

Research activities:

  1. Nutrient and pathogen removal in streams and coastal waters
  2. Capture, treatment, and fit-for-purpose use of stormwater
  3. Collaborative investigations of water conservation behavior

Dr. Zhen (Jason) He

Labs:  Hancock 204 & 206

Group Website:  www.ebbl.cee.vt.edu

Research interests: Environmental biotechnology; bioenergy production; microbial fuel cells; sustainable desalination technology; biological wastewater treatment; anaerobic digestion; water softening process environmental bio-electrochemistry; osmotic bioelectrochemical systems; membrane bioreactors; sustainable water reuse.

Research activities:

  1. Technologies for sustainable water and wastewater treatment
  2. Microbial process in engineered systems designed for biological wastewater treatment
  3. Bioenergy production to improve bioreactor performance.
  4. System scaling up of microbial fuel cells for wastewater treatment
  5. Development of microbial desalination cells for brackish water desalination
  6. Forward osmosis for water desalination and wastewater reuse
  7. Membrane bioreactors and algal bioreactors
  8. Anaerobic digestion, and nutrient removal and recovery (e.g., anammox)

Dr. Erich Hester

Labs:  Patton 3, Patton 4, Patton 10, various field sites

Group websitewww.flow.cee.vt.edu

Research interests: Hydrology; hydraulics; environmental fluid mechanics; groundwater; surface water-groundwater exchange; hyporheic exchange; floodplain exchange; surface coal mine hydrology.

Research activities:

Analysis of flow in streams, rivers
wetlands, riparian zones, and groundwater
Zonal exchange such as hyporheic exchange and floodplain exchange
Nutrient, pollutant, and heat transport in water
Mitigation of pollution by natural means in stream and river systems
Water quality impacts of surface coal mining
Measuring environmental sustainability of water resources management

Dr. Clayton Hodges

Research interests: Urban hydrology and characteristics of urban stormwater runoff; stormwater best management practice (BMP) design, construction, and maintenance; geospatial analysis related to impacts of urbanization; optimization of hydrologic systems; land development technologies and practices.  

Research activities:

Stormwater BMP selection optimization
Hydrologic software development
Stormwater management standards
Predicting and modelling thermal pollution in urban watersheds
BMP monitoring
Stream flow monitoring

Dr. Jennifer Irish 

Research interests: Coastal engineering; coastal hazards; storm surge; tropical cyclones; disaster resilience; natural and nature-based infrastructure; sea-level rise.

Research activities:

  1. Probabilistic surge hazard assessment
  2. Storm surge dynamics
  3. Effects of sea-level rise on ecosystems
  4. Disaster-resilient communities and infrastructure
  5. Coastal hazard assessment
  6. Impact of forests and mangroves on tsunami inundation
  7. Storm-induced coastal erosion and barrier-island breaching
  8. Storm surge forecasting

Dr. Gabriel Isaacman-VanWertz

Labs:  Durham 491 and 493

Research interests: Natural and anthropogenic emissions transformation in the atmosphere; air pollution formation and removal.

Research activities:

  1. Particulate matter in both indoor and outdoor environments
  2. Interactions between gas- and particle phase compounds in the atmosphere
  3. Composition of anthropogenic and natural emissions
  4. Chemistry behind emission oxidation in atmosphere to form particulate matter
  5. Processes that deposit emissions into other ecosystems

Dr. William Knocke

Research interests: Physical-chemical processes as applied to drinking water treatment situations; environmental processes; environmental chemistry and the geological sciences.

Research activities:

  1. Control of trace metals (primarily iron and manganese) via adsorptive and oxidative methods
  2. Characterization of natural organic matter in drinking water and suitability of conventional coagulation systems for removal of these organics;
  3. Characterization of the residuals streams (primarily solids materials) produced within water treatment operations, with emphasis on dewatering and disposal options. 

Dr. John Little

Labs:  Durham 493 and 495 as well as three field sites (Spring Hollow Reservoir, Carvins Cove Reservoir and Falling Creek Reservoir)

Research interests: Cross-media mass transfer and process dynamics in environmental systems, with a focus on managing water quality in lakes, reservoirs, and watersheds, and understanding and controlling emissions from building materials and consumer products.  A system-of-systems approach to a wide range of socio-environmental problems is a relatively new area of interest.

Research activities:

  1. Management of water quality in lakes and reservoirs
  2. Migration of chemicals from materials and products into air and water
  3. Sustainable management of watersheds and the integration of watershed and economic models
  4. Approaching sustainability and resilience from a systems perspective

Dr. Linsey Marr

Labs: Durham 493 and 495, Kelly 230

Group Website:  http://www.air.cee.vt.edu

Research interests: Transformation and fate of pollutants in the atmosphere; improved quantification of air pollutant emissions; environmental and health impacts of nanotechnology; airborne transmission of infectious disease.

Research activities:

Quantifying emissions of gaseous and particulate pollutants from different sources
Developing a mechanistic understanding of the airborne transmission of infectious diseases
Characterizing the airborne microbiome
Assessing the environmental impacts and health impacts of engineered nanoparticles
Predicting partitioning of organic compounds and exposure to them

Dr. Amy Pruden

Lab:  ICTAS II

Group Website:  https://www.pruden.cee.vt.edu/research/

Research interests: Applied environmental microbiology; antibiotic resistance genes as emerging contaminants; opportunistic pathogens in premise plumbing; environmental implications of nanotechnology; biomolecular tools; sustainable water infrastructure; microbiome of the built environment.

Research activities:

  1. Antibiotic resistance in agricultural and wastewater influenced watersheds
  2. Opportunistic pathogens in drinking water systems
  3. Characterizing the microbiome of the built environment.
  4. Provide fundamental insight into wastewater, drinking water and recycled water systems

Dr. Megan Rippy

Lab:  Occoquan Watershed Monitoring Laboratory, 9048 Prince William Street, Manassas, VA (Northern VA area), owml.vt.edu 

Personal Homepage: https://www.ecosystem-services-lab.com

Research interests:  Urban water quality and public/ecosystem health (coastal, estuarine, and stormwater); Green stormwater infrastructure; Ecosystem services and public perception of urban greenspace

Research activities:

  1. Effects of urban stormwater on aquatic ecosystems and public health
    1. Characterization and modeling of green infrastructure co-benefits and their social, ecological, and hydrological drivers
    1. Urban water security (particularly during times of drought).

Dr. Nina Stark

Research interests: Coastal and marine geotechnics; subaqueous sediment dynamics; beach dynamics; beach trafficability; structure-seafloor interaction; offshore renewable energies; instrument development and remote sensing.

Research activities:

  1. Beach dynamics at mixed sand-gravel and sandy beaches
  2. Wave energy converter developments
  3. Pore pressure behavior under ocean wave forcing and the associated impact on sediment erosion and scour
  4. Geotechnical investigations of sediment remobilization processes (particularly in energetic nearshore zones)
  5. Development of in-situ instrumentation for controlled geotechnical testing, and sediment sampling.
  6. Arctic coastal erosion

Dr. Kyle Strom

Lab: 111 Hancock Hall [Baker Environmental Hydraulics Laboratory]

Research interests: Environmental hydraulics; environmental fluid mechanics; sediment transport; geomorphology; experimental methods.

Research activities:

  1. Sediment transport processes in coastal river mouth plumes
  2. Turbulence and bed sediment motion
  3. Hydraulics of distributive channels and their deposits (deltas and fans)
  4. Movement of fine sediment in gravel bed rivers and estuaries
  5. Experimental methods and instrumentation development

Dr. Peter Vikesland

Labs:  Hancock 206, Kelly 230

Research interests: Nanomaterials in the environment; improved sensors for drinking water treatment.

Research activities: 

  1. Field-deployable sensors for detection of environmental contaminants
  2. Characterization of the environmental implications of nanomaterials
  3. Use of nanoparticle-enabled spectroscopies
  4. Engineered nanomaterials interaction with biotic and abiotic surfaces

Dr. Zhiwu (Drew) Wang

Occoquan Watershed Monitoring Laboratory, 9408 Prince William Street, Manassas, VA (National Capital Region)

Group Website:  http://www.water.cee.vt.edu/

Research interests: Water and wastewater treatment; nutrient removal and recovery; anaerobic digestion; biofilm reactors; bioprocess modelling, and the bioconversion of waste into bioenergy and bioproducts.

Research activities:

  1. Mathematical modelling of bioprocesses
  2. Biogranulation for process intensification and integration
  3. Innovative nitrogen removal
  4. Advanced phosphorus recovery
  5. High-rate anaerobic digestion
  6. Conversion of wastes to methane, ethanol, electricity, diesel, and bioplastics

Dr. Mark Widdowson

Labs:  Durham 389B; Patton 10 and 14

Research Interests: Groundwater resources; fate and attenuation of contaminants in aquatic environments; modelling and decision-support tools; subsurface remediation including natural attenuation; bioremediation; phytoremediation.

Research activities:

  1. Forecasting cost-benefit of municipal water system upgrades
  2. Regional water supply planning
  3. Groundwater management and modeling in Eastern Virginia
  4. Risk assessment to water supply and water resources infrastructure
  5. Phytoremediation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon compounds
  6. Contaminant transport, attenuation and remediation of chlorinated solvents
  7. Impact organic carbon in aquifer and river bed sediments
  8. Arsenic mobilization and transport in aquifers.