Paul V. Roberts/AEESP Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award

Nomination Form »

* The AEESP Awards Committee has ultimate discretion for which Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation award gets selected.

This award is given annually to recognize a rigorous and innovative doctoral thesis that advances the science and practice of water quality engineering for either engineered or natural systems. Special consideration will be given to physical-chemical process research and/or research that especially supports underserved communities, environmental awareness, or sustainable solutions. The award will consist of a plaque and a cash prize of $1,500 for the student, and a plaque and a cash prize of $500 for the faculty advisor. A $750 travel allotment is provided to the student recipient if he or she attends the awards ceremony. A total allotment of $750 is also available to support travel of the faculty advisor to the awards ceremony, or may be shared by faculty co-advisors who attend the ceremony.

Refer to the nomination package for the required submission requirements.

Faculty advisors are encouraged to nominate dissertations completed under their supervision but must limit themselves to a single entry.  Nominated dissertations must be from the calendar year prior to when the award is given, i.e., the due date printed on the dissertation cover must be from the prior calendar year prior to the nomination year.

*Eligibility: Dissertations must have been from the previous calendar year, as per the cover page of the dissertation. Dissertations may be submitted up to one year late, but only under very extenuating circumstances. This is at the discretion of the Chair of the Awards Committee, but with approval from the AEESP President.

Professor Roberts (1938 - 2006) was among the very best and most admired environmental engineers of his generation. He brought together interdisciplinary teams of hydrogeologists, chemists, microbiologists, and engineers, and showed the value of interactions between laboratory studies, field studies, and theory for the solution of complex environmental problems. In 1997, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for these contributions. Paul was an inspiration to his students and faculty colleagues. For his students, Paul provided not only the tools, motivation and inspiration for making rigorous and innovative contributions to environmental engineering and science, but also a poignant example of how one can balance professional excellence with a full and rich personal life. He was an advocate of environmental awareness and green engineering long before it was commonly popular, and he was a strong supporter of environmental justice and engineers' role in helping to meet the needs of underdeveloped communities. Paul was a role model for many, and was often heard reminding his students and others to "do good while doing well."

Click here for a summary of past Student Award winners.

Past Recipients

YearRecipientDissertation TitleAdvisor
2023Weiyi PanUsing Aquatic Chemistry to Understand Lead Concentrations in Drinking WaterDaniel Giammar, Washington University in St. Louis
2022Riley MulhernPoint-of-Use Water Treatment for Private Wells in North Carolina: Risks and Solutions for Lead, Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), and Microbial ContaminantsJacqueline MacDonald Gibson, Indiana University
2021Michael BentelUnderstanding Structure-Reactivity Relationships for Aqueous Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Within the UV/sulfite SystemJinyong Liu, University of California, Riverside
2020John T. TrimmerResource Recovery from Sanitation to Amplify Development: Navigating Global and Local PossibilitiesJeremy S. Guest, University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana
2019Emily D. GarnerOccurrence and Control of Microbial Contaminents of Emerging Concern through Urban Water Cycle: Molecular Profiling of Opportunistic Pathogens and Antibiotic ResistanceAmy Pruden and Marc Edwards, Virginia Tech
2018Masaru NobuOmics-based characterization of complex anaerobic metabolism in methanogenic wastewater treatmentWen-Tso Liu, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
2017Kimberly ParkerContribution of Halides to Photochemical Reactions in Estuaries and Coastal WatersWilliam Mitch, Stanford, University
2016Sara E. BeckWavelength-Specific Effects of Ultraviolet Light on Microorganisms and Viruses for Improving Water DisinfectionKarl G. Linden, University of Colorado
2015Justin T. JasperTreatment of Trace Organic Contaminants and Nutrients in Open-Water Unit Process WetlandsDavid L. Sedlak, UC-Berkeley
2014Roland D. CusickNutrient and Heat Recovery from Waste Streams Using Microbial Electrochemical TechnologiesBruce E. Logan, Penn State University
2013Greg LeFevreFate and Degradation of Petroleum Hydrocarbons in Stormwater Bioretention CellsPaige Novak and Raymond Hozalski, University of Minnesota
2012Simoni TriantafyllidouLead (Pb) Contamination of Potable Water: Public Health Impacts, Galvanic Corrosion and Quantification ConsiderationsMarc A. Edwards, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

AEESP established the original doctoral dissertation award in 1974 with sponsorship from the consulting firm Engineering-Science, Inc. When Engineering-Science merged with Parsons Corporation in 1995, sponsorship of the award was continued by the Parsons Corporation for another 10 years. In the 2006 the award was discontinued and there were two doctoral dissertations awards made through sponsorship by CH2M Hill (2006-2011). The list of the winners of the Parsons/Engineering-Science from 1974-2005 are provided below:

YearRecipientThesis TitleAdvisor
2005John R. ZimmermanIn Situ Stabilization of Persistent Organic Contaminants in Marine SedimentsRichard Luthy, Stanford University
2004William MitchPrevention of the Formation of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) during Waste Water ChlorinationDavid L. Sedlak, University of California, Berkeley
2003Qilin LiCompetitive Adsorption of Trace Organic Compounds by PAC Membrane Filtration SystemsVernon L. Syoeyink and Benito Marinas, University of Illinois
2002Charles B. BottElucidating the Role of Toxin-Induced Microbial Stress Responses in Biological Wastewater Treatment Process UpsetsNancy G. Love, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
2001Martin D. JohnsonPhenanthrene Sorption/Desorption Mechanisms and Rapid Prediction of Long-Term Desorption Rates Using Superheated WaterWalter J. Weber Jr, University of Michigan
2000Carlos FilipeCompetition Between Phosphate and Glycogen Accumulating Bacteria: Stoichiometry, Kinetics and the Effects of pHC.P. Leslie Grady, Jr, Clemson University
1999Chi-Wang LismidCharacterizing the Properties and Reactions of Natural Organic Matter by UV Spectroscopy: Adsorption of NOM and Formation of Disinfection By-ProductsMark M. Benjamin and Gregory Korshin, University of Washington
1998Laura J. EhlersRP4 Plasmid Transfer Among Strains of Pseudomonas in a BiofilmEdward J. Bouwer, Johns Hopkins University
1997Xiaoyan LiCoagulation between Fractal Aggregates and Small Particles and Fractal Properties of Marine ParticlesBruce Logan, University of Arizona
1996Michael H. BerginMeasurement and Modeling of Fluxes of Chemical Species to the Greenland Ice Sheet at SummitCliff I. Davidson, Carnegie Mellon University
1995Tian Cheng ZhangInfluence of Biofilm Structure on Transport and Transformation Processes in BiofilmsPaul Bishop, University of Cincinnati
1994Chih-Hsiang LiaoThe Investigation of Hydrogen Peroxide Photolysis as a Water Treatment ProcessMirat D. Gurol, Drexel University
1993Wookeun BaeModeling Dual-Limitation Kinetics Incorporating Intracellular Cofactor ResponsesBruce Rittmann, University of Illinois
1992Lisa Alvarez-CohenFormulation of Trichloroethylene and Chloroform by Methanotrophs-Experimental Studies and Modeling of Toxicity and Sorption EffectsPerry L. McCarty, Stanford University
1991Jil Talkovsky GellerDissolution of Non-Aqueous Phase Organic Liquids in Porous MediaJames R. Hunt, University of California at Berkeley
1990Gordon D. CobbModeling and Experimental Simulations of Organic Contaminant Biotransformation in Subsurface EnvironmentsEdward J. Bouwer, The Johns Hopkins University
1989Cheng-Fang LinAdsorption of Metals and Dissolution of Ferrihydrite in the Presence of PolyphosphatesMark M. Benjamin, University of Washington
1988James R. MihelcicMicrobial Degradation of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons under Denitrification Conditions in Soil-Water SuspensionsRichard G. Luthy, Carnegie Mellon University
1987David DzombakToward a Uniform Model for the Sorption of Inorganic Ions on Hydrous OxidesFrancois M.M. Morel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1986W. ClarksonFermentation of Particulate Organic Matter to Methane in Thermophilic Anaerobic Attached Film Expanded Bed ReactorW. J. Jewell, Cornell
1985Arthur BaehrImmiscible Contaminant Transport in Soils with Emphasis on Gasoline HydrocarbonsM. Corapcioglu, City College NY
1984B.E. JonesFate of Toxic Organic Compounds in Activated Sludge and Integrated Activated Sludge/Carbon Treatment SystemsWalter J. Weber, Jr., University of Michigan
1983Edward J. BouwerTransformations of Trace Halogenated Organic Compounds in BiofilmsPerry L. McCarty, Stanford University
1982Chia-Hwa YangThe Effects opf Cyanide and Chloroform Toxicity on Methane FermentationRichard Speece, Drexel
1981Antonio O. LauSubstrate Uptake and Mass Transfer Effects in Activated Sludge BulkingDavid Jenkins, University of California
1980Thomas JewellUrban Stormwater Pollutant LoadingsDonald D. Adrian, University of Mass.
1979Bruce RittmannThe Kinetics of Trace Organics Utilization by Bacterial FilmsPerry L. McCarty, Stanford University
1978Mesut SezginThe Effect of Dissolved Oxygen Concentration on Activated Sludge Process PerformanceDavid Jenkins, University of California
1977Bill BatchelorAutotrophic Denitrification Using Sulfur Electron DonorsAlonzo Lawrence, Cornell University
1976Michael StenstromA Dynamic Model and Computer Compatible Control Strategies for Wastewater Treatment PlantsJohn F. Andrews, Clemson University
1975William J.  SnodgrassA Predictive Phosphorus Model for Lakes-Development and TestingCharles O'Melia, North Carolina
1974Douglas MerrillHigh Rate Treatment of Raw Domestic Sewage by Lime Precipitation and Dissolved Air FloatationRoger Jordan, University of Colorado