Research Areas

The environmental engineering program's research areas include:

  • Advanced anaerobic digestion of sludge and production of Class A biosolids
  • Removal of nitrogen from wastewater
  • Development of low cost sustainable wastewater treatment systems in developing countries
  • Pd-based catalysts for the reduction of oxyanions and halogenated contaminants
  • Graphitic carbon nitride as a visible-light-responsive photocatalyst for the degradation of persistent organic micropollutants and pathogen inactivation
  • Photocatalyic membrane for fouling mitigation

Research Projects

Recent environmental engineering projects include:

  • Intensified hydrolysis for high solids destruction: Testing the limits of advanced digestion. Sponsor: Water Environment and Reuse Foundation.
  • Evaluation of carbon redirection in high rate activated sludge processes. Sponsor: DC Water and Sewer Authority.
  • Small scale sewage treatment and wastewater reuse system for Pakistan. Sponsor: U.S. Department of State/USAID.
  • Development and application of piezoelectric nano-heterostructures to reduce the chemical and energy demand of water treatment. Sponsor: National Science Foundation.
  • Development of multifunctional reactive electrochemical membranes for biomass recovery with fouling reduction, water reuse, and cell pretreatment. Sponsor: National Science Foundation.
  • Development of graphitic-carbon-nitride-based antimicrobial nanomaterials for safe food processing and packaging. Sponsor: U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Dr. Rumana Riffat is the coordinator of the environmental engineering program. Dr. Riffat specializes in the area of anaerobic biotechnology, nutrient removal and hazardous wastes. Her research interests are in biological treatment of wastewater, process kinetics, advanced anaerobic treatment, and nitrogen removal among others. Dr. Riffat is an internationally respected environmental engineering professional, is the author of a book and a number of publications in the area of environmental engineering. She has led a large number of sponsored research projects in the water-wastewater areas. See for more details. 

Dr. Danmeng Shuai specializes in the area of nanotechnology, catalysis, water quality engineering, and environmental chemistry. His research group aims to apply materials-based strategies for sustainable water purification, renewable energy production, and infectious disease prevention. His current research focuses on advanced treatment technologies (e.g., oxidation, reduction, separation) for water purification with reduced energy and chemical footprint, production of renewable energy, and antimicrobial development for inactivating waterborne, foodborne, and airborne pathogens. See for details. 


Students and faculty conduct research in the Environmental Engineering Laboratory, which has some of the following capabilities:

  • Chemical analysis of water
  • Biochemical analysis of water
  • Gas chromatography
  • Atomic absorption spectrophotometry
  • High performance liquid chromatography
  • Ion chromatography