Prof. Kristen Underwood received the Richard W. Carbin Community Conservation Award. Named after the land trust’s founder, this award recognizes those who demonstrate a commitment to conservation in their communities.

 

Prof. John Lens was selected for UVM’s Outstanding New Service-Learning Faculty Award. Among other practice-oriented courses, John teaches our two-semester capstone design course sequence.

 

Prof. Matt Scarborough was awarded an Early Career Award from the American Society of Engineering Education for his paper entitled "Overcoming affective and cognitive chemistry challenges in an introductory environmental engineering course using a Flint Water Crisis case study." The study examined how a case study related to the Flint Water Crisis improved both performance on chemistry problems and attitudes towards chemistry. The award is given by the Environmental Engineering Division for the best paper from an early-career engineering educator.

 

 

Six great new CEE faculty joined the department in 2020-21 - Matthew Scarborough (Assistant Professor - Biological wastewater treatment, anaerobic bioprocessing of wastes, microbiome engineering, modeling of microbiomes); Gregory Rowangould (Associate Professor and Director of Transportation Research Center - Transportation system and land-use modeling, mobile source emissions and air quality analysis, regional transportation planning, transportation policy analysis); and three Research Assistant Professors (Dana Rowangould - Transportation and land use planning and policy, environmental justice, active travel, accessibility, health, and air pollution; Scott Hamshaw - Water resources, geomatics, machine learning, environmental sensing; and Elizabeth Doran - Urban climate, land use and land cover change, social-ecological systems, systems modeling, and sustainability); and Co-Director of Curricular Enrichment Courtney Giles - Biogeochemistry, rhizosphere processes, agricultural biotechnology, nutrient transport, innovative pedagogy, instructional research.

 

 

Professors George Pinder and William Gray, both members of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), introduced a new sophomore-level course for the Honors College in Spring 2020. The course was designed to reach students who did not have an engineering background, especially those that lacked knowledge of college physics or mathematics beyond algebra.

To access such students Pinder and Gray wrote and provided to the students a draft textbook. The book presented in algebraic form the physically based equations that describe water flow and contaminant transport in the subsurface. It also described how to solve these equations using only algebra and Excel.

At the culmination of the course a real-world problem involving the Woburn groundwater contamination site (featured in the book and subsequent movie both entitled A Civil Action) was modeled using an existing computer program that employs the same equations and solution methodology introduced in the course. The resulting model was then used by the students to address a key scientific question that arose during the Woburn legal trial. The students also had a chance to conduct a hydraulic conductivity experiment in our soils lab.

The class of 18 students included students from many disciplines, with 2 students in engineering, 2 in microbiology, 1 in biological science , 1 in biochemistry, 4 in environmental science, 1 in mathematics, 1 in data science, 1 in business, 3 in computer science, 1 in anthropology and 1 in economics.

Based upon the performance of the students, Pinder and Gray concluded that it is, indeed, possible to overcome the communication barrier that has classically existed between students in disparate disciplines and have these students succeed in a rigorous quantitative mathematical modeling course. Subsequent offerings of this course are expected to further enhance the abilities of students with disparate backgrounds to understand quantitative methods of analysis of environmental problems and to communicate that understanding across disciplinary boundaries.

 

 

NSF EAGER funds our faculty – Prof. Scott Hamshaw along with CEE faculty Donna Rizzo and Kristen Underwood, Byung Lee (Computer Science) and Melissa Pespeni (Biology) received an EAGER grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in response to the NSF 2026 Idea Machine Solicitation. The project, one of just 21 selected for funding nationally, addresses two of NSF’s Top 33 Ideas, Universal Similitude Across Scales, and Integrated Human-Machine Intelligence by focusing on the broad area of Earth Sciences. Freshwater resources face growing pressures from extreme events and land use changes, which result in varying trends in water quantity and quality at multiple scales (from small creeks to large rivers and from storm events to decadal cycles). To build a greater understanding of the impacts to water quality, this interdisciplinary research project will investigate trends in short-term and long-term water quality and streamflow data and possible similarities and associations to watershed attributes (e.g. land use, topography). The project takes a unique approach to this challenge by leveraging an interdisciplinary team including biologists and microbiologists from both UVM and collaborator U.S. Department of Energy, Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory. Results of the project will help further the research agenda of multi-scale environmental science research.

 

 

Farewell to Lisa Aultman-Hall – The University of Waterloo recruited Prof. Aultman-Hall to be the Chair of their Systems Design Engineering Department over the summer. We are very sad to see her move, but we wish her the very best in this new chapter in her career. Her new department will benefit from her significant experience as the founding director of our Transportation Research Center and Faculty Senate President in addition to her exceptional instructional, research, and mentoring capabilities.

PUBLISHED

10-09-2020
University Communications