Greetings from EEE Fall 2019

The College of Engineering at Purdue University has as its overarching goal: Pinnacle of Excellence at Scale. In pursuing this goal, Purdue Environmental and Ecological Engineering (EEE) must act on a number of fronts. This is the case since the definition of “excellence” greatly depends on what issue is being considered, and the perspective of the associated stakeholders. In this message, and throughout this newsletter, we will address how we are driving for excellence in terms of student success, research impact, and connectedness.

With regard to student excellence, we want our students to be in high demand after graduation. With this in mind, we have designed rigorous and innovative curricula to ensure that the students are well-prepared professionally. We also encourage the students to engage in extracurricular activities, e.g., study-abroad and industry internships, to further foster their development. As evidence of student excellence, our graduates have gone on to major consulting firms, world-class manufacturing companies, and continued their education at great graduate schools. Our superb graduate students have been awarded numerous distinctive fellowships in recognition of their academic strength. Many of our Ph.D. graduates have accepted academic positions at prestigious universities. As further proof of the high quality of our students, this newsletter (as well as past newsletters) has stories on our students that have received notable recognitions.

Faculty excellence emphasizes generating high-impact research, disseminating research results via scholarly journals, and being an inspirational teacher and mentor to students. EEE faculty are conducting impactful and cutting edge research as exemplified by Prof. Whelton’s work related to the Paradise, CA Camp Fire, Prof. Nateghi’s use of Twitter ‘fingerprints’ to understand how people behave in a crisis, and Prof. Hardiman’s contributions to understand how forest complexity influences carbon sequestration. The faculty and their graduate students are disseminating this research via publications in high impact journals, e.g., Prof. Nies’s innovative paper on detecting aromatic oxygenase genes via PCR, Prof. Cai’s collective works on understanding taxi travel patterns, the collaborative effort of Profs. Hua, Jafvert, and Nies on photodegradation of decabromodiphenyl ether, and Prof. Zhao’s highly cited manuscript on manufacturing scheduling for carbon footprint reduction. Our faculty are amazing in terms of mentoring and teaching. More than half of the core EEE faculty have been recognized with awards for their teaching/mentoring.

It is increasingly evident that progress, impact, and excellence can only be achieved through partnerships and collaborations – in short being connected with others. Several recent efforts have focused on building these connections. Purdue EEE partnered with the Heritage Group on June 4, 2019,  to host a workshop at “The Center” in Indianapolis entitled “Environmentally Driven Value Creation.” Over 80 people enjoyed a series of speakers and networked during a reception that followed. Nearly 200 international scholars attended the CIRP Life Cycle Engineering Conference in May that was organized by Fu Zhao and hosted by EEE. Professor Chad Jafvert is a key participant in the Arequipa Nexus Institute for Food, Water, Energy, and the Environment, which is partnership between Purdue University and the Universidad Nacional de San Agustín (UNSA) in Arequipa, Peru. The Nexus Institute is seeking to create transformative solutions to the grand challenges faced by Arequipa, Peru, and Latin America in terms of food security, water and air quality, energy efficiency, etc.

As we drive toward excellence we welcome the support of our alumni, friends, and partners to help us make a difference in the lives of our students and to ensure that we leave the earth in a state where future generations can enjoy the same opportunities that we have.