Research in Environmental Engineering aims, in part, to obtain an improved understanding of physical, chemical and biological processes occurring in the natural and built environment.
In parallel, a systems-based approach explores the interplay of several such processes across different scales in terms of their impact on larger-scale natural resources and urban infrastructure. Intimately linked to this exploration is establishing the appreciation for associated societal impacts and their on influence relevant management strategies and policy. Under the overarching focus on the sustainable, such a combined process-systems-based approach enables a path to action to protect and preserve ecosystem equilibrium, urban quality of life, human health and air/water quality. Additionally, resilience in a changing climate is promoted and a progressive shift to renewable energy sources is enabled.
Courses and research consider the integration and analysis of systems engineering and of economic policy issues posed by the need to manage water, land, air, and human resources, as well as environmental remediation efforts.
Current research topics include breaking waves and nearshore processes; wave-structure interactions; tsunamis; air-sea exchange processes; the transport and fate of contaminants in the nearshore environment; lake mixing; transport and circulation; measurement technologies; hydrologic phenomena, such as land surface processes, earth-atmosphere interactions, infiltration, and groundwater.
Specialization in Environmental Processes requires an understanding of the biological, chemical and physical phenomena that affect the planning, design and operation of the engineering facilities needed to protect public health and the environment.