Charles R. O'Melia AEESP Distinguished Educator Award

Nominations for 2023 AEESP Awards will open on November 1, 2022.

Please take a moment to read AEESP's Conflict of Interest Policy to ensure nominators and/or nominees do not pose a conflict of interest prior to submitting nominations.

This award is given annually to recognize the significant contributions of Professor O'Melia to environmental engineering education and will be awarded to an environmental engineering or science professor who has a record of excellent teaching in the classroom and through graduate student advising; significant research achievements that have contributed to environmental engineering knowledge; and an outstanding record of influence through mentoring of former students and colleagues. The recipient of this award will receive a plaque, a cash prize of $1500, and a $750 travel allotment to attend the awards ceremony.

Nomination packages should include: (1) a brief cover letter from the nominator; (2) curriculum vitae for the nominee, (3) documentation demonstrating excellent classroom teaching and graduate student advising, significant research achievements, and outstanding record of influence through mentoring of students and colleagues consisting of no more than 30 pages, (4) one (minimum) to three (maximum) letters of recommendation from current or past students; and (5) one (minimum) to three (maximum) letters of recommendation from faculty, administrator, or industry peers. Past nominations will be carried over and considered for three years and can be modified during this period.

*Eligibility: All AEESP members are eligible for this award.

Questions may be directed to the chair of the AEESP Awards Committee:
Dr. Helen Nguyen
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Illinois
e-mail:; Tel: 217-244-5965

Professor Charles R. O'Melia (1934-2010) had a major role in the education of hundreds of students who studied environmental sciences and engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard University, the University of North Carolina, and Johns Hopkins University. He was a preeminent teacher, and was considered one of the leading researchers in water and wastewater treatment, aquatic colloid chemistry, and modeling of natural and engineered systems. Dr. O'Melia received numerous awards throughout his distinguished career including election to the National Academy of Engineering in 1989. Professor O'Melia's former students recognize him not only for his excellent teaching and research contributions, but also for his truly inspirational mentoring that impacted their professional careers and their personal lives. He had great influence on his faculty colleagues at Georgia Tech, Harvard, University of North Carolina, Johns Hopkins, and at other universities throughout the United States and throughout the world through his high academic and professional standards, philosophy, and dedication. As a result of his excellence in teaching and research and his outstanding mentoring of students and colleagues, Professor O'Melia continues to educate us through the teaching and research of his former students.

AEESP thanks the generosity of the donors to the Charles O'Melia Award Fund and the Charles O'Melia Award Fund Steering Committee and AEESP Foundation for their efforts to endow this award.

Past Recipients

Year Recipient
2021 Michael K. Stenstrom, UCLA
2020 R. Scott Summers, University of Colorado, Boulder
2019 John Tobiason, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
2018 James Mihelcic, University of South Florida
2017 Mitchell J. Small, Carnegie Mellon University
2016 James Edzwald, University of Massachusetts
2015 Gene F. Parkin, University of Iowa
2014 Menachem Elimelech, Yale University
2013 Philip C. Singer, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
2012 Desmond F. Lawler, University of Texas at Austin