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Civil and Environmental Engineering

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Pedro J. J. Alvarez, the George R. Brown Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at Rice University and director of the National Science Foundation’s Energy Research Center for Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment at Rice, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

The NAE cited Alvarez, who joined the Rice faculty in 2004, for his “contributions to the practice and pedagogy of bioremediation and environmental nanotechnology.” He is among the 83 new members announced Jan. 7, which brings the total U.S. membership to 2,293 and the number of foreign members to 262.
The newly elected members will be formally inducted during a ceremony at the NAE’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 30.
“Pedro is an outstanding teacher, scholar and leader. His work on bioremediation and nanotechnology have been transformational, and will lead to technologies that will have significant impacts around the world,” said Reginald DesRoches, the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of the George R. Brown School of Engineering, and professor of CEE and of mechanical engineering at Rice.
A native of Nicaragua, Alvarez received his Ph.D. in environmental engineering in 1992 from the University of Michigan. From 1993 to 2003 he was at the University of Iowa, where he served as associate director of the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing. At Rice he served as department chair 2005 to 2015.
As a doctoral student, Alvarez started his research into bioremediation, a process that uses bacteria and other microorganisms to remove contaminants from water. He has authored two textbooks on bioremediation in soil and water, including the only such book in Spanish. BP has used his research to develop hydrogeology models for evaluating the potential impact of biofuels on groundwater.
Since joining Rice, Alvarez has pioneered research on environmental nanotechnology including the risks posed to microbial ecosystem services by released nanomaterials and nano-enabled disinfection and microbial control.
Alvarez is a Fellow and former president of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors, and an associate editor of the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science and Technology. According to Google Scholar, Alvarez’s publications have been cited more than 25,400 times and his h-index is 72.
He serves as honorary professor at Nankai University in Tianjin and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, and as adjunct professor at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in Florianopolis, Brazil. He serves on the advisory board for the engineering directorate of the National Science Foundation.
In 2012, Alvarez was awarded the Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke Prize for “excellence in water research” by the National Water Research Institute. He is a Fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Sciences, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the International Water Association, and the Water Environment Federation.
Established in 1964, the NAE advises the federal government on matters related to technology and engineering. NAE membership honors those who have made important contributions to engineering theory and practice, including the literature of engineering theory and practice.
Other current faculty members elected to the NAE are Richard Tapia (1992), University Professor, Maxfield-Oshman Professor in Engineering, professor of computational and applied mathematics; Moshe Y. Vardi (2002), Karen Ostrum George Distinguished Service Professor in Computational Engineering, professor of computer science; Pol Spanos (2005), Lewis B. Ryon Professor of Mechanical Engineering and of Civil Engineering; Rebecca Richards-Kortum (2008), Malcolm Gillis University Professor, and professor of bioengineering, and of electrical and computer engineering; Edwin L. “Ned” Thomas (2009), Ernest Dell Butcher Professor of Engineering, professor of materials science and nanoengineering, chemical and biomolecular engineering, and of chemistry); Antonios Mikos (2012), Louis Calder Professor of Bioengineering, and professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering; and Naomi Halas (2014), Stanley C. Moore Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, professor of biomedical engineering, of chemistry, and of physics and astronomy.

Patrick Kurp, Engineering Communications