May 2016 Newsletter

What’s new in CEE?

Congratulations, CEE Graduates!

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering will be pleased and proud to award degrees to graduating ME, MS, and PhD students during Finals Weekend (May 20 – 22). The following students are degree candidates for this term:  Ethan Bradshaw (ME), SeyedehMahboobeh (Mary) Sharifiasl (ME), Ankit Singh (ME), William Stowe, Jr. (ME), Suhail Thomas (ME). Piljin Chun (MS), Teresa Jarriel (MS), Evelina Khakimova (MS), Kathryn McCann (MS), Gina O’Neil (MS), Salman Usmani (MS), and Ning Li (PhD). Congratulations and best wishes to all of our graduates!

What’s up, [post-]doc? — Dr. David Kahler

Post-doctoral research associates (“post-docs”) play important roles in the research, teaching, and administrative activities of the department. However, they frequently do not get the recognition they deserve.  Additionally, senior graduate students who are nearing completion of their PhD may have questions about what to do next, how to find positions, etc. Accordingly, this feature will periodically feature CEE post-docs, so that we can learn more about them and their work, in their own words.

Where are you from, where did you do your undergraduate and graduate studies, and in what fields?

Originally, I am from Massachusetts.  I did my undergraduate in physics and mathematics at Skidmore College in upstate New York and my graduate work in hydrology and fluid dynamics at Duke University.

Who was your doctoral adviser, when did you graduate, and what was your dissertation topic?
At Duke, I worked with Zbigniew Kabala on the mixing in porous media; specifically, the fluid interactions in dead-end pores for the purpose of accelerating groundwater remediation.  I finished in 2011.  After graduate school, I was a Science and Technology Policy Fellow at AAAS in the Office of Water at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  There, I worked drinking water and sanitation as well as water resources management issues.  Most of my work was in Africa.

What is your current title, who is your mentor, and what are you working on? 
Here, I am a Water and Health in Limpopo (WHIL) Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Fellow in Civil and Environmental Engineering and the the Department of Infectious Diseases in the School of Medicine.  My mentor is Jim Smith and I work on a number of projects related to drinking water treatment in the developing world.  Professor Smith and two graduate students invented a novel silver-impregnated ceramic disk for the purpose of drinking water treatment.  The metallic silver oxidizes and silver ions are released into the water at a safe yet effective level.  I study the diffusion of those ions and the other reactions and interactions that control the silver level in the water.  The work is related to my dissertation work in diffusion in porous media; although, here, we add sorption dynamics and oxidation reactions.

Why did you pursue a post-doc and how did you find your current position? What are your future career aspirations and how does your post-doc prepare you to achieve them?
I was initially interested in this position because of the combination of my research background and my experience with USAID.  What really made the position perfect was that my wife was starting her Doctorate of Nursing program here.  We hope that we are able to find positions with a strong engineering school and academic medical center.  My plan is to establish a research program that focuses on water resources issues in the developing world.  My experience here has been critical and has introduced me to many future collaborators.

What is your advice for current CEE graduate students?
My advise to current students: publish early, publish often.

Anything you’d like to share about yourself professionally and/or personally?
I plan to stay at UVA another year, which is  good because my wife has one more year in her program.

(Left): Dr. David M. Kahler
Would you like to recommend a post-doc or recent graduate alum to be featured in an upcoming newsletters? Please email their name and email address to!

Help welcome incoming grad students

CEE had a very successful recruiting weekend this year, and, excitingly, more than twenty new graduate students have accepted offers of admission for Fall 2016. It would be nice to welcome the newest members of our “community of scholars” before they arrive in Charlottesville, especially as they may have questions that can be best answered by current graduate students; e.g., where to live, how to find a roommate, what classes to take, etc. Accordingly,  we are seeking several current students to serve as “ambassadors” to our newest students. These individuals would be responsible for contacting 2-3 incoming graduate students via email or phone and making sure they know how to access all available resources in CEE, SEAS, and UVA. Ambassadors would also be invited to a “welcome social” in August, to meet the new students. Please email to volunteer for this position. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Recent papers from CEE

Here are some recent papers by CEE students, post-docs, and faculty.

Click on the links to heck out what your colleagues have been working on (and drive up their download statistics!), and be sure to congratulate them on their hard work.

Additionally, as a reminder, please link yourself to CEE in Research Gate if you haven’t done so already. This is a great way to highlight your work, network with other researchers, and make yourself visible to employers for future post-docs and faculty positions.

Keep in touch this summer

Summer is a busy time for academic and personal travel — for conferences, field work, and much-need vacations. Keep your colleagues updated by sending a “virtual postcard” to Include your a photo, your name and degree (ME, MS, PhD), and several sentences about what you’re up to. We’ll feature this information in summer newsletters. Safe travels!