Letter from the Director

Hello Alumni and Colleagues,

This semester has shown us that resilience goes beyond the Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment (ESSIE) as we navigate through uncertain times. Our highest priority is the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. Using guidance from the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering and the University of Florida, we have made accommodations to make sure that each person is being heard and is safe. We are continuing to monitor any local and nationwide developments regarding COVID-19.

In these trying times, we look to share activities and accomplishments of our faculty and alumni who are creating and leading initiatives by working with government and private entities to improve our goal of environmental sustainability.

Timothy Townsend, Ph.D., the Jones Edmunds Professor of Environmental Engineering in the Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences, has received part of a $6 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to study PFAS chemicals and their role in landfills. The ultimate goal is to come up with new strategies to address PFAS concerns in our waste stream.

Civil Engineering Assistant Professor Christopher Ferraro, Ph.D., was awarded $1.1 million from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program to perform research on the prevention of damage on concrete used to house nuclear reactors. Findings may lead to a decrease in nuclear power plant production and maintenance costs, resulting in lowered dependence on foreign energy.

Our faculty are also being recognized in their respective fields. Environmental Engineering Sciences Assistant Professor Christine Angelini, Ph.D., received two awards for her contributions to interdisciplinary water research and accomplishments in estuarine science and coastal restoration. Civil Engineering Assistant Professor Xiaoyu Song, Ph.D., received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award to study failures in unsaturated porous media. He’ll use this award to test novel numerical models and evaluate unsaturated soils impacted by climate change.

In addition, our students continue to impress beyond the classroom. Before graduating, Thomas Lutza was selected by UF and the Alumni Association as an Outstanding Four-Year Scholar due to his academic and extracurricular achievements.

We are incredibly proud of our alumni who are contributing to environmental sustainability. Fawn Bergen (BSEES ‘99) fulfills her lifelong passion in math, science and the environment in her role as Global Sustainability Program Manager at Intel Corporation. Currently, Bergen is spearheading Intel’s water restoration goal, which is to restore 100% of the company’s water usage by 2025.

Here’s to good health and resilience as we become stronger together. We look forward to seeing more advancements and connecting with you.

Warmest regards,




Kirk Hatfield, Ph.D.,