Finding Sustainability

A national gathering of environmental engineering and science professors to focus on advancing global sustainability initiatives.


By Vickie Chachere

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (July 7, 2011) – The University of South Florida will host a prestigious national convention  of engineering and science professor beginning Sunday, the first time the Association of Environmental Engineering & Science Professors has held its conference in the Southeast in its more than 50-year history.


More than 400 people are expected to attend the three-day event at the Marshall Student Center, including more than 200 professors from 100 institutions, said Maya Trotz, a USF Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who has been a key organizer of the event. Conference discussions will be centered on sustainability and will explore how students and academic scientists in engineering can help the world make progress in protecting its limited natural resources.


USF was awarded the hosting of the conference in January in a competitive bid process.


 “We selected sustainability because it’s very much a buzzword these days and we have a lot of traction on it,” Trotz said. “We are in there in the science of sustainability. We are talking about interdisciplinary work and it captures the way we can solve our grand challenges.”

Conference organizers have selected seven theme areas for presentations on education, research and practice: advances that deal with water depletion and degradation; assessing and improving air quality and waste management; infrastructure for an expanding and urbanizing population; vulnerability and adaptation to climate change; global issues in environmental engineering; energy and sustainability in practice. A complete schedule can be found here.


Monday’s session will open with a talk from Paul Anastas, the Assistant Administrator for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development, who is known as the “Father of Green Chemistry" for his pioneering development of minimally-toxic, environmentally-friendly chemicals.


Also appearing as featured speakers are USF Engineering Professor James Mihelcic, the internationally-recognized leader in creating sustainable systems who heads the university’s Peace Corps masters program; and Rosina Bierbaum, the University of Michigan’s Dean of the School of Natural Resources and Environment and a member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.


Posters from 136 students and researchers also will be presented.


“The message is that integration is key and we really need to start thinking not just about research but research, education and practice,” Trotz said.

The organization also will take time to honor the earlier pioneers of the international sustainability movement on Tuesday, July 12, honoring association members who earned their PhDs before 1975 and contributed to the understanding of today’s challenges.


More information on the association and its programs can be found here.