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Graduate Programs

Graduate Programs

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences is home to a diverse group of faculty and students - enrolling approximately 78 graduate students and 24 post-doctoral fellows. Our goal is to educate the next generation of engineers and scientists, professionals who are independent thinkers capable of addressing a wide range of problems. The multidisciplinary nature of the program prepares candidates for a variety of careers, from civil to environmental engineering and geochemistry. We offer course work, research opportunities, and experience in world-class facilities, which lead to the Master of Science in Civil Engineering, the Master of Science in Environmental Engineering, the Master of Science in Earth Sciences, and the Doctor of Philosophy.

Structural Engineering
Structural engineering provides the basis for designing, analyzing, and constructing buildings, bridges, towers, and other civil structures so they safely resist the forces to which they may be subjected. Through the analysis and testing of structures and their components, structural engineers advance the understanding of structural response to seismic, wind, gravity, and other loads, and thereby design more functional and economical structures.

The structural/geotechnical/materials engineering graduate program incorporates computational and experimental approaches to problems on the behavior of structures (e.g., buildings, bridges, and offshore platforms) under service loads (e.g., traffic) and environmental loads (e.g., wind, earthquake, fire, and waves); materials characterization and durability; soil-structure interaction; and behavior of soils in static and dynamic conditions. Faculty, students, and staff work together to create and sustain a quality culture of learning, discovery, and creativity. The faculty are committed to developing in their students the skills needed to identify and solve real-world engineering problems.

The program's academic and research activities have attained an international reputation for excellence in areas such as earthquake engineering, structural dynamics and control, wind engineering and structural aerodynamics, full-scale monitoring, behavior of structural systems, dynamics of offshore structures, structural analysis and design, smart structures, and structural reliability and risk analysis. Numerous opportunities exist for students to become involved in research activities that promote multidisciplinary solutions to civil engineering problems of national and international importance. Overseas research experiences are also available.

Environmental Fluid Dynamics
This program concentrates on theoretical - numerical and analytical - and experimental studies in areas such as groundwater contamination, surface and subsurface hydrology, geochemical characterization of hydrologic systems, and water quality modeling. Basic and applied research includes laboratory and field studies involving groundwater flow and transport, surface water/groundwater interaction, water source protection, computational models of flow and transport, and tide and hurricane studies in the coastal ocean. This program emphasizes applications in both industrialized settings and in rural settings in developing countries. Recently, our efforts have included the meaurement of energetic atmospheric updrafts in mountainous terain, prediction of hurricane tidal surges in the gulf coast region of the United States and monitoring of microbial transport in groundwater systems.

Environmental Engineering
Combining engineering and science, environmental engineering examines the release, fate, transport, toxicity, and remediation of pollutants in the environment. Research efforts include water chemistry, hydrology, water supply and wastewater treatment - including systems for rural U.S. and developing nations - and remediation. Central to this program is the study of physical, chemical, and biological processes that influence the treatment of contaminants in soil, sediment, surface water, groundwater, and air. Innovative laboratory and field techniques are developed and integrated into projects where fundamental engineering and design principles are applied. Special emphasis is placed on understanding the scale-up transition from the flask to the field. Focus areas include environmental microbiology, environmental biotechnology, environmental nanoscience and technology, and groundwater flow and contaminant transport.


Environmental Geochemistry and Biogeochemistry
Many of the reactions that control the mobility and distribution of elements in the environment occur at interfaces between water, minerals, and bacteria. Such biogeochemical reactions influence the environmental fate of various elements, including heavy metals and radionuclides, the bioavailability of nutrients, and the global carbon cycle. Using a combination of experimental, theoretical, and field approaches, faculty and students are investigating the importance of bacteria and natural organic matter in water-rock systems, from the nano-scale to the scale of entire watersheds. Current research integrates thermodynamic (equilibrium) and kinetic (rate) approaches to quantify bacteria- and organic-mineral-water interactions.

Environmental Mineralogy and Nuclear Waste Management
The environmental mineralogy research group is studying the structures, chemistries, stabilities, and occurrences of low-temperature minerals. This work is targeted toward developing a general theory relating mineral structures and mineral paragenesis. Much of the research is applied to environmentally pressing issues such as radionuclide contamination and the disposal of nuclear waste in geological repositories. Studies of natural occurrences, synthesis of mineral analogues, X-ray diffraction studies, and theoretical approaches form the basis of this research. Current research is focused on the mineralogy of uranium, lead, mercury, selenium, boron, and transition metals.

Petrology and Geochemistry
The petrology and geochemistry group studies the environment, materials, and surface processes from both regional and planetary perspectives. Research is currently being conducted on Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs) like the Kerguelen and Ontong Java Plateaus, the origin of plumes at the core-mantle boundary, and the effects these have on the evolution of the Earth and its surficial environment. Additional investigations include studies of the Moon, Mars, and the origin of the solar system through the study of chondritic meteorites and orbiter and lander spacecraft data. Applied research includes studies of the environmental effects of platinum group element (PGE) pollution from automotive catalytic converters. The cornerstone of this research are the ICP-MS and EMP labs. 

Center for Environmental Science and Technology
Notre Dame's Center for Environmental Science and Technology (CEST) is a cooperative effort between the College of Engineering and the College of Science. It provides educational and basic research opportunities for the development of innovative solutions to environmental problems facing the world today. This interdisciplinary facility was established in 1987 and continues to serve as a focal point for research in pollution control. Among the areas of research represented in CEST are: bioremediation of contaminated soil, catalysis for emission control, genetic and chemical manipulation of enzymes, groundwater hydrology, and the radiolytic and photolytic destruction of hazardous organic compounds. (For more information about the center click here)