Sustainable Systems Research

Civil and environmental engineers work to advance sustainable systems by seeking to understand and mitigate the impacts of human activities on the natural environment.


Our department focuses on minimizing releases of pollutants to air, water, and other environmental compartments to lessen their negative impacts on human health and ecosystem functioning. Sustainability also strongly influences how civil and environmental engineers design and operate infrastructure systems so that we can minimize their contribution to global climate change.

Sustainable systems research within civil and environmental engineering at UVA encompasses the study of physical processes and systems that lead to floods and droughts, which informs creation of useful decision-support tools. It also includes assessment of how energy, water, and food systems are intertwined via carbon and nitrogen cycling, with focus on navigating tradeoffs amongst various priorities, exploration of ways to make water and wastewater treatment more effective and resource efficient, and examination of processes and pathways to remove and sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide. This work contributes to sustainable infrastructure systems that are better able to serve society now and in the future.

CEE Faculty in Sustainable Systems

Larry Band

Ernest H. Ern Professor of Environmental Science

I am an eco-hydrologist with research spanning the continuum of natural through urban watersheds. A goal is to develop and incorporate principles learned in unmanaged ecosystems as part of urban ecosystem restoration.

Andrés F. Clarens

Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering Associate Director, Environmental Institute

Andrés Clarens is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UVA and Associate Director of the Pan-University Environmental Resilience Institute. His research is focused broadly on understanding anthropogenic carbon flows and the ways that CO2 is manipulated, reused, and sequestered in engineered systems.

Teresa B. Culver

Associate Professor

My lifelong love for the outdoors translated directly into the study of environmental and water resource engineering. At UVa, I have the honor of working with a new generation of engineers who will work to create a sustainable future.

Jonathan L. Goodall

Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering Director, UVA Engineering Link Lab

Jonathan Goodall is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Virginia (UVA) and Director of the UVA Engineering Link Lab

Lindsay Ivey-Burden

Assistant Professor, Academic General Faculty, Teaching Track Managing Director, MATS UTC Director, Center for Transportation Studies

Dr. Ivey-Burden joined the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Virginia in January 2012. Her research and teaching interests include geotechnical engineering, foundations engineering, solid waste management, risk analysis in infrastructure systems, geotechnical earthquake engineering, and geophysical testing techn

Venkataraman Lakshmi

John L. Newcomb Professor of Engineering President-Elect Hydrology Section, American Geophysical Union

Venkat graduated from University of Roorkee in 1987 with a Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering and a Doctorate in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 1996 from Princeton.

Lisa Colosi Peterson is a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and director of the UVA Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Lab.

Julianne Quinn

Assistant Professor

Quinn's research focuses on optimization and simulation methods used to inform the design and management of water resources systems with the goals of protecting people from nature (floods and droughts), and nature from people (pollution and consumption). She is interested in how advanced sensing and forecasting techniques inform this optimization.

Majid Shafiee-Jood

Research Assistant Professor Graduate Program Director

Majid Shafiee-Jood is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Systems and Information Engineering at the University of Virginia.

James A. Smith

Henry L. Kinnier Professor of Civil Engineering

James A. Smith is an environmental engineer holding the Henry L. Kinnier Chair of Civil Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UVA. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech in 1983 and 1984, and his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Princeton University in 1992.