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Research Themes

Our department focuses on problems related to Natural and Manmade Hazards, Civil Infrastructure, Environment, Energy, Water, and Earth and Planet Systems. We have dynamic and thriving undergraduate and graduate programs that are integrated into our research enterprise that concentrate on our core themes.  Progress in these areas have led to the advancement of basic science and applied engineering tools that substantially impact people across the world every day. Among the most visible focus areas are:

Infrastructure1.  A focus on Infrastructure Response to Natural and ManmadeHazards including atmospheric winds, wind-structure interaction, ocean waves and currents, floods, earthquakes, and fire. The Environmental Fluid Dynamics group is advancing the theoretical understanding of and developing improved tools to define atmospheric winds, coastal ocean waves, coastal currents, storm surge, and tsunamis that threaten infrastructure, shipping, and/or aircraft. The Structural Engineering group has pioneered methods for studying the structural health of buildings, implemented and deployed advanced structural monitoring systems in the premiere tall buildings in the world including the Burj Khalifa, developed advanced stochastic methods to better understand risk, and has implemented state of the art theoretical and experimental methods to analyze and predict structural system safety and reliability as well as design approaches for structures with improved performance under extreme hazards of all kinds including hurricanes, earthquakes, fire, and blasts.

EnvFluidDyn2. A  focus on Fluid Flow and Transport with emphasis on theoretical, field and laboratory experimental and computational methods to understand and predict atmospheric, surface water (including lake, riverine, estuarine, and oceanic), and groundwater flows and transport and their impacts on civil infrastructure, energy, environment and vice-versa.  The Environmental Fluid Dynamics group solves problems such as the structure of winds in complex terrain and through cities, hurricane surge and wave environments in the coastal ocean and floodplain, and flow through porous media.   Furthermore advanced isotope tracing expertise within the Earth Sciences group provides the ability to track the origin of air and water masses being studied,  These activities are closely related to structural response and natural disasters (Structural Engineering) as well as to water and the environment (Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences).

3. An Actinide Materials focus that is leading the way to new Actinidemethods for isolating from the environment and reprocessing used nuclear fuels. This effort focuses on engineering, geosciences and chemistry of the design of materials that will be able to sequester radionuclides. The goal is to identify new materials at the nano-scale capable of capturing multiple elements, in multiple oxidation states, and in a variety of chemical forms. This work is providing fundamental knowledge and new materials to support an advanced, efficient, and safe nuclear energy system in the United States (http://ndefrc.com)

Environmental

4. A focus on Chemical, Microbial, and Biogeochemical Interactions in Natural and Engineered Systems. Manipulation of systems ranging from contaminated groundwater aquifers to membrane-based water and wastewater treatment systems requires knowledge of the interaction of chemicals, surfaces, natural and engineered nanoparticles,  microbes  (including formation and structure/function of biofilms), and flow and chemical transport in complex hydro-geologic systems.  This work synergizes the Environmental Engineering, Earth Sciences, and Environmental Fluid Dynamics groups. The groups have a unique opportunity to develop and deploy sensor systems for monitoring natural waters and engineered environmental systems, leading to a more rapid response to contaminants, including bioterrorism agents, and more sustainable water management systems.