Who Am I?
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I hold both the David L. Boren Professorship and Sam K. Viersen Family Presidential Professorship in the School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science at the University of Oklahoma (OU), Norman, Oklahoma, USA. I am the director of the Center for Restoration of Ecosystems and Watersheds (CREW), Associate Director of the Water Technologies for Emerging Regions (WaTER) Center and Adjunct Professor of Biology. I am also affiliated with the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Aquatic Research Facility, Biological Station and Kessler Atmospheric and Ecological Field Station programs at OU. During academic year 2013-14, I was on a sabbatical leave-of-absence, serving as a Visiting Research Scientist at the Grand River Dam Authority, Langley, Oklahoma.
I have a BS from Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania (1989) and a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University (1996), both in Environmental Science. As an undergraduate, I completed a U.S. Department of Energy Science and Engineering Research Semester at Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, New York. I also took summer field ecology classes at the University of Montana Flathead Lake Biological Station, Polson, Montana and worked at Juniata’s Raystown Field Station.
After graduation, I was employed as a Research Biologist at the Pittsburgh Research Center of the U.S. Bureau of Mines, a Department of the Interior agency, where I worked with a team examining the role of what were then called “constructed wetlands” for the treatment of coal mine drainage. It was a career-changing experience, one that I enjoyed so much that I decided that if I ever wanted to return to graduate school, I needed to do it soon.
At Ohio State, I completed one of the first doctoral dissertations at the Olentangy River Wetlands Research Park working with William J. Mitsch. I examined water quality and soil changes in created riparian wetlands and developed my career interests in ecological engineering, ecosystem and watershed biogeochemistry, wetlands science and ecosystem restoration. I had never visited Oklahoma before I interviewed in 1996 for my “first job” in academia and I have been at OU since January 1997.
I teach both undergraduate and graduate courses in environmental science and engineering, including Ecological Engineering Science, Wetlands Science and Management, Environmental Biology and Ecology, Hazardous Waste Management, Watershed Management and Restoration, and Environmental Science/Engineering Senior Capstone. My general research areas include watershed biogeochemistry, ecological engineering, ecosystem restoration and wetland science.
As CREW Director, our current research focuses on biogeochemical and ecological processes contributing to metal contaminant retention in mine drainage passive treatment systems and holistic watershed management. My research team works extensively in the Arkoma Basin coal fields of Oklahoma and Arkansas, the Tri-State Lead-Zinc Mining District of Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas (including the Tar Creek Superfund Site) and in the Bolivian Andes near Cerro Rico de Potosi. We perform extensive multidisciplinary research in the Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees watershed of Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. We have field sites related to urban stormwater management, water reuse and related water quality issues in the Lake Thunderbird and Canadian River watersheds near Norman, Oklahoma.
Our team works closely with numerous local, state, federal and tribal entities. I have published over 100 refereed journal articles, book chapters and conference proceedings papers, directed 61 funded research projects with nearly $23 million in funding, advised 50 graduate and nearly 70 undergraduate research students, provided over 300 professional presentations and taught numerous short courses and workshops.
I am President of Watershed Restoration, Inc. and serve on the board of directors for Engineers in Action (EIA), both 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations. In 2017, I served as President of EIA, working on water, sanitation and health issues in Bolivia and Ecuador. I also served recently (2013-14) as President of the American Society of Mining and Reclamation (ASMR), an organization of over 500 individuals interested in disturbed land and water reclamation. I serve on the Editorial Board of Ecological Engineering: The Journal of Ecosystem Restoration. I am a recent recipient of the David L. Boren Distinguished Professorship, ASMR William T. Plass Award, OU Vice President for Research Outstanding Research Impact Award, ASMR Reclamation Researcher of the Year Award and (with my wife Amanda) the United Way of Norman Volunteer of the Year Award for Service to Education/Youth. In 2015-16, I was a member of the inaugural class of the OU Faculty Leadership Academy.
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