Sustainability

Photo for Sustainability Research of Wallace & Safferman

Building a sustainable economy requires expanded research in water, land, and air quality assessment and maintenance; we have a very strong group in environmental engineering. As our society wrestles with the problem of replacing its heavy use of fossil fuels with newer plant-based technologies, our biotechnology research effort is poised to expand in a collaborative role.

Strength Areas by Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

The environmental engineering program (ENE) at Michigan State University comprises ten faculty members whose expertise covers the commonly-defined specialty areas: water resources (Li, Mantha, Wallace), physical-chemical processes (Masten, Tarabara, Voice), biological processes (Cupples, Hashsham, Xagoraraki), and geo-environmental engineering (Khire). Photo of Irene Xagoraraki with students in lab

Our faculty members are engaged in cutting-edge research addressing current challenges in water treatment, waste management, surface and groundwater hydrology, water quality monitoring, and pollutant fate and transport. This group has gained national and international attention for advances involving new membrane technologies; microarray pathogen detection systems; pharmaceuticals, viruses and emerging chemical contaminants in aquatic systems; environmental systems modeling; remediation and pollutant dynamics.

ENE faculty members maintain a broad network of collaborators in other units with water-related interests including the Center for Water Sciences, Institute for Water Research, the Environmental Science and Policy Program, and the Departments of Chemistry, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Geological Sciences, Crop and Soil Sciences, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, and Geography.

CEE Faculty Expertise:

  • Alison M. Cupples: environmental microbiology, biodegradation, emerging contaminants, molecular techniques for microbial community analysis and function
  • Syed A. Hashsham: environmental and molecular microbiology, bioremediation, environmental genomics using microarrays, modeling microbial ecosystems
  • Milind V. Khire: environmental geotechnology, landfill design and operation, soil remediation
  • M. Emin Kutay performs research to find best methods for adding scrap tire rubber into asphalt pavements. In addition to beneficially re-using the scrap tire in asphalt pavements and avoiding landfilling, there are several benefits of the crumb-rubber modified (CRM) asphalt pavements including improved cracking and rutting resistance, less aging (oxidation) because of the anti-oxidants already in the scrap tire rubber, improved skid resistance, decreased tire/pavement noise levels up to 6 decibels (dBA).
  • Shu-Guang Li: water resources engineering, environmental fluid mechanics, stochastic subsurface hydrology and modeling
  • Phanikumar S. Mantha: reactive transport modeling of environmental systems, Integrated hydrologic modeling, environmental fluid mechanics
  • Susan J. Masten: environmental chemistry, physical-chemical treatment processes, advanced oxidation processes
  • Volodymyr V. Tarabara: membrane separation processes, environmental nanotechnologies, physico-chemical processes in environmental systems, environmental, societal and policy implications of novel materials and technologies
  • Thomas C. Voice: environmental chemistry, fate and transport of contaminants in environmental systems, sorption phenomena, environmental exposure and health
  • Roger B. Wallace: hydraulics and hydrology, water resources, groundwater contamination.
  • Irene Xagoraraki: drinking water quality and treatment, emerging biological and chemical contaminants in water, public health engineering

Photo of Alison Cupples with students in labPhoto of Shu-Guang LiPhoto of Volodymyr Tarabara in the lab with students

Computer Science and Engineering

Prof. Guoliang Xing's group is conducting research on sustainability issues with focuses on thermal monitoring in data centers, volcano monitoring, residential power usage profiling, and aquatic monitoring using robotic sensor networks.Prof. Guoliang Xing's research group

Data centers have become a critical computing infrastructure in the era of cloud computing. The common practice to prevent server shutdowns caused by overheating is to overcool the server rooms, leading to excessive power consumption of the cooling systems. Prof. Xing's group has developed novel temperature monitoring and forecasting techniques that can not only prevent server shutdowns because of overheating, but also improve a data center's energy efficiency. The new approach integrates Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling, in situ wireless sensing, with real-time data-driven temperature prediction. Click here to read more about Guoliang Xing's research.


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Photo of robotic fish by Xiaobo Tan and Philip McKinleyResearchers in MSU ECE are working on a number of sustainability related areas that are targeted towards renewable energy, environmental sensing, and large scale cyber-infrastructure for data informatics. In the area of energy, Dr. Joydeep Mitra’s group is working on grid integration of renewable electric sources, stochastic modeling and analysis of renewable electric sources, and optimal planning and operation in the presence of renewable electric sources. Dr. Tongtong Li’s group is working on improving the efficiency in energy usage and distribution by developing mobile-centric two-way secure communication systems for smart homes and smart grids.Photo of Wen Li working in lab

Dr. Wen Li and Dr. Lixin Dong are developing Graphene based nanostructures and nano-sensing technologies for pollution control. Dr. Andrew Mason’s group is working on biological and chemical sensors for air and water quality monitoring, and on miniaturized wireless systems for portable/wearable integrated sensory systems for environmental monitoring. Dr. Xiaobo Tan is developing robotic fish-based mobile sensing platforms for the monitoring of aquatic environments. This can potentially provide a new tool for environmental scientists to monitor and understand aquatic ecosystems and the impact of climate change on such systems. Finally, Dr. Subir Biswas and his collaborators are developing large scale embedded sensor network and software/middleware systems for scalable environmental monitoring.

Click here to read more about our faculty in Sustainability Research. Or click on the Research-Related Faculty block in the upper right corner