Skip navigation

About Dr. Cai

Dr. Hua Cai is an Associate Professor at Purdue University, with joint appointments in the School of Industrial Engineering and the Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering. She is also affiliated with the Purdue Climate Change Research Center (PCCRC) and the Ecological Sciences & Engineering (ESE) interdisciplinary program. Her research interests include the environmental implications of emerging technologies, smart and sustainable cities, industrial ecology, and complex adaptive systems.


Dr. Cai received her PhD from the University of Michigan in Environmental Engineering and Natural Resources and Environment (jointly conferred). She received her MS from The Pennsylvania State University and her BE from Tsinghua University, both in environmental engineering. Prior to studying at the University of Michigan, she was a laboratory manager and environmental engineer at CDM Smith.


University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI  
- Joint PhD in Environmental Engineering & Natural Resources and Environment, 2015

With Graduate Certificate in Complex Systems, offered by Center for the Study of Complex Systems
Graduate Certificate of Science, Technology, and Public Policy, offered by Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy

Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, NM
- Complex System Summer School, 2013

The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
- MS in Environmental Engineering, 2007

Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
- BE in Environmental Engineering, 2005

Professional Experience

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, 2015-present
- Assistant Professor, School of Industrial Engineering and Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering (joint appointments)

Camp Dresser & McKee (CDM, now CDM Smith), Bellevue, WA, 2007 - 2011
- Laboratory Manager of CDM Environmental Treatability Laboratory (2008-2011)
- Project Engineer (2007-2011)


- Licensed Professional Engineer (PE), registered in Michigan, 2012
- LEED® Green Associate, 2010
- 40-hour OSHA HAZWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Training), 2007

Fellowships & Awards

- The 3M Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Industrial Ecology, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, 2015

- The Samuel Trask Dana Award, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, 2015

- Dow Sustainability Doctoral Fellowship, University of Michigan, 2014

- Student Paper Competition, 3rd Place, International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technology (ISSST), 2014

- Rackham International Research Award, University of Michigan, 2014

- Rosina M. Bierbaum Award in Climate Adaptation and Mitigation, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, 2014

- Second Place Poster Award, University of Michigan Energy Institute Symposium, 2013

- Best Poster Award, 3rd place, AEESP 50th Anniversary Conference, 2013

- First Place Poster Award, 7th International Conference of the International Society for Industrial Ecology, 2013

- Second Place Poster Award, Symposium on Industrial Ecology for Young Professionals, 2013

- Barbour Scholarship, University of Michigan, 2013

- ERM Foundation Sustainability Fellowship, ERM Group Foundation, 2013

- Rackham International Student Fellowship, University of Michigan, 2012

- Ayers Brinser Award, Outstanding Ph.D. student in Natural Resource Policy and Management; University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, 2012

- Climate Adaptation Fellowship, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, 2011

- McKee Groundwater Protection, Restoration or Sustainable Use Award, Water Environment Federation, 2011

- Quick Hit Awards, CDM, 2008 and 2010

- Technical Awards, Best Paper Honorable Mention, CDM, 2010