Research Projects

You'll find a summary of my current and past research projects (and associated collaborators) here.

What is civil systems engineering?

Civil systems engineers are master integrators. They study across disciplinary silos and learn vital skills for integration, leadership, and managing uncertainty. The sub-discipline and it's educated civil systems engineers are well-poised to be leaders in addressing the greatest challenges of the 21st centuty - most notably climate change. My colleague, Dr. Tom Logan, and I published our thoughts in a discussion piece in the Journal of Infrstructure Systems to restart the discussion about how we are teaching and preparing our students, how we are researching, and how we can best use our knowledge and skills as civil systems engineers in the face of complex challenges.

How are our water resources embedded in our global energy system?

Our global energy system is a complex and connected network with countries trading a diversity of energy resources to meet their needs. This body of work focuses on the embedded resources in our global energy trade network, notably the embedded water resources. This work is a collaboration with Dr. Chris Chini from the Air Force Institute of Technology, an expert in virtual water networks.

What does our future energy system look like?

Our future energy systems inevitably need to focus on zero or near-zero carbon systems to mitigate our global emissions from the energy sector. In this work, I model future low-carbon energy systems and invesitgate their costs and environmental impacts. This body of work involves collaborations with researchers at the Carnegie Institution for Science, Dr. Brian Tarroja (University of California, Irvine), and Dr. Emily Grubert (Georgia Institute of Technology).

How much water does our energy system consume?

Our water and energy systems are interconnected and interdependent. We use water to extract, refine, produce, and generate energy and we use energy to teat, distribute, and heat water. This body of work, in collaboration with Dr. Kelly Sanders (University of Southern Claifornia) and Dr. Emily Grubert (Georgia Institute of Technology), focuses on quantifying the amount of water we use in our energy system. We look at this for different energy generating technologies, across different life cycle stages, and across time as our energy systems transition.

Can we treat wastewater without actively adding chemicals?

Treating wastewater, particularly in developing nations, required significant chemical and energetic inputs. This work evaluates the feasibility of co-treating wastewater with acid mine drainage, taking advantage of their respective biological and chemical properties to reduce the required chemical inputs. We evaluate the geochemical processes in experimental scale passive reactors to assess the applicability of passive co-treatment in the mining region of Potosí, Boliva. collaborators include Dr. William Strosnider (University of South Carolina), Dr. Robert Nairn (University of Oklahoma), Dr. Brandon Winfrey (Monash University), and Dr. Julie LaBar (Centenary University).