Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences

Welcome to EEES

Welcome to EEES

Department Overview

The Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences is a vibrant academic community with academic offerings and expertise in environmental process engineering, biosystems engineering, hydrogeology, environmental health physics and radiochemistry, environmental chemistry, and sustainable systems. We have one of the nation’s largest environmental engineering and earth sciences programs which U.S. News and World Report ranks in the top 25 for programs of its kind in the country. The department offers several degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate level.



Students who complete our graduate degrees produce high-quality research and design within Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences and Biosystems Engineering.  Minors in Environmental Engineering, Environmental Science and Policy and Geology are also available.  Our Department also offers a number of 5-year BS/MS options.

News & Announcements [All News]

Nicholas Hotzelt is the winner of a 2015 scholarship awarded by the Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF). Scholarships are awarded by EREF to recognize excellence in master’s, doctoral or post-doctoral waste management research and education. Nick is an M.S. student working in Dr. Kevin Finneran’s lab investigating the conversion of landfill leachate to microbial biomass, which will then be used in anaerobic digesters to form methane. This research advances the prospects of converting landfills to a source of renewable energy. At most current landfills, the methane gas that is formed during the break down of organic waste leaks into the atmosphere and contributes to global warming. The process that Nick is working on will turn a significant environmental problem into a renewable energy solution.

EREF scholarships are highly selective. Nick’s selection is a significant honor for him and brings recognition to Dr. Finneran and the Department. Congratulations Nick!

For more information about EREF scholarships, please visit http://erefdn.org/index.php/scholarships/index


Cindy Lee

Dr. Cindy Lee has accepted the position of permanent chair of the Department of Engineering and Science  Education. Dr. Lee is an accomplished researcher and administrator having served in the past as the interim associate dean for graduate studies and research for the college.

Dr. Lee’s major teaching and research interests are in chemistry of environmentally significant organic compounds. Her specific research interests involve the fate and transport of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), especially polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); pesticides; and petroleum. Cindy Lee is well known at the national stage, having served as a program manager for the National Science Foundation Environmental Sustainability Program,  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board and most recently has won election to the board of directors for the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors.


Dr. Brian Powell is the first recipient of the Robert A. and Pamela S. Fjeld Professorship in Nuclear Environmental Engineering and Science.  The professorship was established in 2015 in honor of Bob and Pam Fjeld.  Bob has been an esteemed faculty member in the Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences since 1980.  He held the Jerry E. and Harriett Calvert Dempsey Professorship of Waste Management from 1996 until he retired in 2009.  Bob’s research focused on the environmental aspects of nuclear technologies. He did pioneering work in the area of risk assessment and he is the lead author of a widely used textbook, Environmental Risk Analysis for Human Health.  Pam Fjeld served as the graduate student services coordinator in the Department from 1987 to 2003.  In many unique and special ways, she enriched the student experience.

Professorships help honor high-quality faculty members and serve as an enduring tribute to university supporters.  Dr. Powell’s appointment to the Fjeld professorship was an obvious choice.  Powell is currently overseeing a $5.25-million research project funded by the Department of Energy to find the safest ways of remediating the nation’s legacy nuclear waste sites and storing nuclear waste.  According to Powell, “We’ve brought together some of the state’s top minds to work on this. Researchers from Clemson, S.C. State and the University of South Carolina are involved. The goal is to advance the science behind environmental monitoring, remediation and disposal of radioactive contaminants.” 

Additional information is available at:  http://newsstand.clemson.edu/mediarelations/professorship-draws-attention-to-nuclear-waste-research/?utm_source=feed


Professor Fred Molz has published a commentary in the journal Groundwater (Vol. 53, No. 3, May-June 2015), entitled “Advection, Dispersion and Confusion.”  In the commentary, Molz address a core question in hydrogeology:  “What is the physical meaning and basis for the classical concept of macrodispersion, and how should one visualize contaminant transport in groundwater.”  This is a must read for anyone working in subsurface remediation.  A link to the article is at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gwat.12338/full.


Professor Fred Molz has been invited to serve as the keynote speaker at the Chapman Conference entitled “The MADE Challenge for Groundwater Transport in Highly Heterogeneous Aquifers: Insights from 30 Years of Modeling and Characterization at the Field Scale and Promising Future Directions.”  Chapman Conferences are sponsored by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and are designed to permit in-depth exploration of specialized subjects. The AGU Chapman Conference program has encouraged innovative research for over 35 years.  This Chapman Conference is designed to bring together a community of researchers who have conducted transport research at the field scale with those who are interested in aquifer characterization and solute transport modeling to: discuss insights gained from the last three decades of research, consider unresolved questions about aquifer characterization and modeling in highly heterogeneous aquifers, and identify promising avenues for future research in these areas.  Three decades of research on groundwater transport in highly heterogeneous aquifers, such as that at the Macrodispersion Experiment (MADE) site, has raised many questions about contaminant transport in highly heterogeneous media, the scale for characterization of subsurface heterogeneity, and the effectiveness of various models to predict transport in such systems.  Professor Molz will deliver his keynote address on "Geo-Statistical Property Modeling."  The conference will be held in Valencia, Spain (October 5-8, 2015).    More information is available at http://chapman.agu.org/aquifers/.


A team of more than 20 researchers from across the state will begin running field experiments at Clemson University next year to find the best ways of storing nuclear waste. Experiments have been done on a small scale in labs, but a new outdoor site will allow researchers to test underground storage methods on an intermediate scale in real-world conditions, said Clemson associate professor Brian Powell. “If we can do that, then our confidence in these waste disposal scenarios will be much, much higher,” Powell said. “This stands to be a premiere test-site in the country.” Read More


The American Water Works Association (AWWA) announced that Xiaojie (Jane) Gan was selected to receive the First Place 2014 Academic Achievement Award for the best Master’s Thesis. Jane performed her MS thesis research at Clemson University from 2011-2013 under the tutelage of Dr. Tanju Karanfil. Jane now works for URS Corporation, in their Columbia, SC office. The Academic Achievement Award from AWWA encourages excellence by recognizing contributions to the field of public water supply. Masters theses that are relevant to the water supply industry are eligible. The award was presented at the AWWA Annual Conference in Boston, MA during the plenary session on June 9, 2014. In addition to this prestigious recognition, Jane received a cash award of $3,000.


Dr. Brian Powell, Associate Professor in EEES, received the 2014 Governor’s Young Researcher Award for Excellence in Scientific Research. This is a major recognition of Dr. Powell’s research accomplishments.  In conjunction with the Governor’s Office, the South Carolina Academy of Science initiated sponsorship of this award, which is directed to a gifted young researcher (only those individuals who have completed no more than 12 years beyond the Ph.D.).  Governor’s Awards are designed to honor specifically an individual or team within the state whose achievements and contributions to science in South Carolina merit special recognition and to promote wider awareness of the quality and extent of scientific activity in South Carolina.  Dr. Powell has expertise in the understanding and prediction of the physical, chemical, and biological processes which govern the mobility of radionuclides in natural and engineered systems.  His research focuses on biogeochemical processes controlling radionuclide behavior in the environment such as sorption by minerals, interactions with nano-colloids, complexation by organic ligands, and interactions with microorganisms.
Dr. Powell was honored at the SC Academy of Science Annual Meeting at Trident Technical College, Charleston, SC, on April 5, 2014.


Each year the Journal of the American Water Works Association (AWWA) selects one article for the “Best Advanced Treatment of Water Paper Award.” For 2013, the award was given to Daniel Olin Lewis, David A. Ladner, and Tanju Karanfil for their paper “Source water and microfiltration plant manganese control study.” According to David LaFrance, Executive Director of AWWA, The paper was selected based on its impact on the water sector and the professional and editorial quality of the paper. Given the large number of papers published in the journal each year, this is a major achievement. The award will be presented in Las Vegas, Nevada at the 2014 AWWA/AMTA Membrane Technology Conference and Exposition in March.
Daniel Olin Lewis is currently a system engineer with Duke Energy in Seneca, S.C. He earned his master’s degree in environmental engineering and science from Clemson University in 2012, working under the guidance of Drs. Ladner and Karanfil. David A. Ladner is an assistant professor and Tanju Karanfil is a professor in EEES. Dr. Karanfil was recently promoted to the position of Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research in the College of Engineering and Science.


Dr. Tanju Karanfil, former EEES department chair, has been named as the Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Students for the College of Engineering and Science at Clemson University. Congratulations Dr. Karanfil on your new position.


The EEES department is excited to welcome two new faculty members.  Drs. Christophe Darnault and Yi Zheng will be joining the faculty this August, increasing the Biosystems Engineering research presence and teaching BE undergraduate and graduate courses.

Kiekhaefer Selected for Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

Becca Kiekhaefer, an M.S. candidate in the Hydrogeology program, was selected by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) as one of this year's winners of the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.  NAGT recognizes outstanding teaching assistants in geoscience education with up to 30 awards annually. Both undergraduate and graduate teaching assistants are eligible for the award. Award winners receive a one year membership in NAGT, which includes an online subscription to the Journal of Geoscience Education and the new In The Trenches quarterly magazine. More information may be found at http://nagt.org/nagt/students/ta.html.  Becca was nominated for the award by Dr. Alan Coulson, who supervises many of the teaching assistants for the BS degree in Geology.  Congratulations to Becca.

Clemson Biosystems and Bioengineering Grad Students Win big at “DIG South”

Biotech start-up SouthYeast Labs was born from a Creative Inquiry project in Biosystems Engineering on Zymology and the Science of Beer. Students David Thornton and Even Skjervold created a procedure for bioprospecting, characterizing, and producing native strains of alcohol producing yeast suitable for the fermented food and beverage industries. After presenting at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Beer Chemists last year, the group was urged to make these strains, unique to Clemson University's Musser Fruit Research Farm, available to the public. The team incorporated as SouthYeast Labs in January, 2014 and participated in a forum sponsored by “DIG SOUTH” (the Southeast’s interactive festival celebrating innovation and the digital economy; http://digsouth.com/). SouthYeast claimed a first place prize of $5,000 to help grow the Labs into a national commercial producer. You can try beers, wine and cider using native SouthYeast strains at breweries across the southeast. For more information contact david@southyeast.com.

Walters Wins AIPG Scholarship

Dana Walters, a Junior majoring in Geology at Clemson University, recently received a scholarship from the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) National Scholarship program. AIPG sponsors this highly competitive award as part of their mission to advance the geosciences as a profession. Dana's winning essay, which will be published in the July issue of The Professional Geologist, discussed the merits of geology as a meaningful career choice and explains how geology has a positive impact on our society. The scholarship provides financial aid to help cover academic costs for students majoring in the geosciences. Congratulations Dana!

“Brewcovery” Team Wins Second Place in the DOE ACC Clean Energy Challenge

EEES graduate students David Thornton and Karthik Gopalakrishnan took home the second place award at 2014 ACC Clean Energy Challenge, held at the University of Maryland on March 26, 2014. The team made it to the final four with their biointegrated process, "Brewcovery," for converting food and brewery wastes into biodiesel, sustainable animal feeds and organic soil amendments using a combination of larval and algal bioconversions and extractions. The group won a $5,000 prize; the grand prize of $100,000 went to Georgia Tech. Development of the Brewcovery process has begun on a 28 acre campus in Anderson, SC, with commercial operation scheduled to begin in 2015. Thornton and Gopalakrishnan are Biosystems Engineering graduate students advised by Dr. Terry Walker and Dr. Caye Drapcho. The team is also supported by EEES alum Holly Garret and SAFES graduate students Alex Pellett and Shawn Jadrnicek. You can contact the group at brewcovery@gmail.com and follow their progress at www.facebook.com/brewcovery.

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