The department offers two doctoral degrees in earth and environmental engineering. The Eng.Sc.D. degree is administered by the School's office of Graduate Student Affairs. The Ph.D. degree is administered by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The qualifying examinations and all other intellectual and performance requirements for these degrees are the same.
EEE doctoral candidates must already hold a master's degree in a related engineering or science discipline. Therefore, students with a bachelor's degree can apply for the M.S./.Ph.D., in which they complete a M.S.-E.R.E. before pursuing either a Ph.D. or Eng.Sc. degree, without having to reapply.
The EEE doctoral program encompasses projects that include Earth/environmental objectives and involve research in the following areas:
- Developing a better understanding of the impacts of industrial and other human activities on the environment (e.g. sources and transport of contaminants in water bodies; application of geochemical or physical principles in environmental assessment)
- Reconfiguring of industrial activities so as to reduce adverse impacts on the environment (e.g. alternative materials/processes; implementation of cogeneration and distributed power generation; advanced technologies for solar power generation; advanced landfill engineering)
- Mitigation of past environmental damage (constructed wetlands; management of contaminated sediments; bioremediation of contaminated land)
- Earth system and industrial ecology studies (analysis of materials flow; advanced methodologies for LCA; technology/policy interactions)
The EEE doctoral program is by its very nature interdisciplinary as it seeks to bridge the divide between natural systems and engineered systems. Thus, instead of a single advisor a doctoral student may have an advisory committee, chaired by his/her principal advisor and including up to three other faculty from other departments and schools. Also, student advisors ensure that students are linked to other disciplines by means of taking courses and including faculty of other departments in the advisory team.
Core Scientific Directions of EEE Research
- Material Flows through the Economy and the Environment: Environmentally sustainable extraction and processing of materials, recycling of used materials, management of residues
- Management of Water Resources: a) Basic understanding and prediction of the processes that govern the availability and quality of water resources; b) vulnerability of water resources to unbridled use and to industrial activities, such as mining, and associated management and public health problems; and c) necessary actions for mitigation/remediation of environmental impacts of human activity (multidisciplinary projects in coordination with Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Civil Engineering, School of Public Health, School of Public Affairs,Economics)
- Contaminants in the Environment: Soil-water decontamination, bioremediation (coordination with Environmental Molecular Science Institute)
- Energy: Mitigation of environmental impacts of energy production; resource recovery from waste materials; energy efficient systems; new energy sources; carbon sequestration strategies (coordination with Mechanical Engineering, Lamont-Doherty)
The solid materials used by humanity are extracted from the Earth. After use, these materials and also the waste streams resulting from their processing and use must be treated or recycled in order to conserve nonrenewable resources and minimize the adverse effects of disposal on the environment. This area of DEEE research involves the application of Earth sciences, mining and geological engineering, hydrometallurgy, pyrometallurgy, electrochemistry, and surface chemistry in the extraction, processing, and disposal or recycling of materials.
Water is the most important material used by humanity. The total annual usage in the U.S. is about one trillion tons or 4,000 tons per person, which is about 200 times as much as all other materials combined. The global use of water amounts to about 4 trillion tons or 700 tons per capita. Most of this use is in agriculture and industry. The volume of water affected by human activities is much greater.
Earth and environmental engineering research is also concerned with the environmental effects of land-intrusive operations related to the use of materials, like mining, landfilling, land remediation, constructed wetlands, etc. Past industrial and other human activities have resulted in the contamination of large areas of land and masses of water. The techniques that have been applied for finding valuable minerals, like applied geophysics, can also be applied in the environmental assessment of land and water. Faculty in the minerals extraction and processing area need to collaborate with faculty in the water resources area when it comes to the remediation of contaminated Earth resources and the mitigation of further contamination (e.g. from old landfills or tailing dams) by means of physical, chemical, or biochemical technologies.
EEE doctoral candidates can also work on cross-disciplinary Earth engineering projects such as: policy and economic effects on resource extraction, processing, transport, and disposal; and modeling of the environmental impacts from industrial activities at different scales.