Letter from the Director

Dear Alumni and Colleagues,

Navigating this new normal has been an adjustment, and I’m continuously impressed by the resilience displayed by our students, faculty and staff. I would like to acknowledge their extraordinary efforts as we shift how we research, teach, and learn.

First and foremost, we would like to welcome our new faculty hires. These four new faculty pursue research that includes sustainable design, environmental genomics, microbial ecology, and multihazard engineering.

Our faculty have responded as problem solvers in this time of international crisis. Eric Jing Du, Ph.D., an associate professor in civil and coastal engineering, received funding from the National Science Foundation to investigate how people are acclimating to this new normal as U.S. continues to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic. His research will provide insight and guidance on behavioral patterns for the general public and policy and emergency management agencies. Chang-Yu Wu, Ph.D., a professor in environmental engineering sciences, led a team of researchers to find strong evidence that aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, may be possible. The team found that SARS-CoV-2 in aerosols can be cultured, sparking the need to reevaluate current safety protocols to reduce transmission.

We are proud to feature faculty and students who are paving the way toward environmental sustainability. Katherine Deliz Quiñones, Ph.D., received support from the Environmental Protection Agency’s STAR program to help build resilience in vulnerable communities. David Kaplan, Ph.D., an associate professor in environmental engineering sciences, was instrumental in a U.S. Supreme Court case on the Clean Water Act that will have a lasting positive impact on public policy. Sydney Williams, an environmental engineering sciences doctoral student, received funding by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office for Coastal Management to research the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve’s water quality changes over the years and provide recommendations.

Lastly, I want to recognize Sergio Galeano’s (MSE ’64, Ph.D. ’66) endowment to support our environmental engineering students in perpetuity with a generous gift. Before he passed, Dr. Galeano made the largest endowment ever to the Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences, and his gift will support undergraduates working beside professors in the classroom and in laboratories.

Please take care and stay safe,




Kirk Hatfield, Ph.D.,