W. Wesley Eckenfelder Graduate Research Award

2016 Recipient: Dr. Matthew Verbyla

Originally from Unionville, CT, Matthew Verbyla is currently a postdoctoral research associate at the University of South Florida (Tampa, FL). His research addresses sustainable development challenges at the intersection of food-energy-water systems and public health; specifically he studies pathogen removal in natural and non-mechanized wastewater treatment systems to assess the microbial risk of wastewater reuse in agriculture. Matthew has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Lafayette College (2006), as well as a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering (2012) and a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering (2015), both from the University of South Florida. He has several years of professional experience in Honduras, first with a Fulbright Fellowship (2007) to study the sustainability of rural water service under decentralization policies, and later as the engineering project director for a non-profit organization, where he led the development of water, wastewater, and infrastructure projects for small cities and periurban communities.

Matthew received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in 2012 to support his doctoral research. In 2015, he received a USAID Research and Innovations Fellowship in Engineering to spend six months working with a non-profit organization in Minas Gerais, Brazil to develop a novel solar-powered sludge-drying system. Matthew is an editor for the Sanitation Technologies group of the Global Water Pathogens Project (www.waterpathogens.org), which is led by UNESCO and Michigan State University. He has LEED Green Associate credentials from the U.S. Green Building Council and several years of civil engineering consulting experience in the United States.

Past Recipients





Bryan D. Coday

Tzahi Cath, Colorado School of Mines


Maureen Kinyua

Sarina Ergas, University of South Florida


Roland Cusick

Bruce Logan, Pennsylvania State University


Xie He

Francois de los Reyes, North Carolina State University

This award is given annually to recognize an environmental engineering or environmental science graduate student whose research contributes to the knowledge pool of wastewater management. The award selection will be based on original, innovative research of publishable quality and other factors as provided below.

Both Master’s and Ph.D. students are eligible. The award will consist of a plaque and a cash honorarium of $1,500.00 for the student and a plaque for the faculty advisor. A $500.00 travel allotment to student recipients who attend the AAEES Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science awards ceremony will also be provided. This award selection committee is administered jointly by AEESP and AAEES, and is co-sponsored by HDR. Eligible applicants will be judged based on academic program performance (45%), professional or community service (15%), project significance (25%), purpose and goals (10%), and any other evidence provided (5%). An applicant remains eligible up to one calendar year following graduation and receipt of the degree earned.

Electronic nomination packages should include: (1) A letter from the faculty advisor of the applicant, indicating that the applicant has completed all substantive requirements for the graduate degree sought, and has earned a minimum GPA of 3.3/4 in the current program, (2) Two academic letters of recommendation, detailing the contributions of the research to the profession, (3) Copy of a publication (or manuscript submitted for publication) derived from the subject research for which the applicant is the first author – 25 page limit, (4) A professional resume of the student applicant, listing all professional affiliations, publications, honors, service, and relevant experience, and (5) An applicant-prepared statement of professional purpose in pursuing the graduate degree and goals for the first five years of professional practice – (limit 500 words).

2017 Nominations are now open.

Questions may be directed to the chair of the AAEES Foundation Awards Committee:

John E. Tobiason, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
e-mail: tobiason@umass.edu; Tel: 413-545-5397

Professor Wesley Eckenfelder, Jr. is considered the “godfather” of industrial wastewater management. He was a great colleague and mentor to numerous practitioners, professors, and students. His prolific contributions to the environmental engineering discipline included writing over thirty books, serving as a principal in several environmental engineering firms, and receiving twenty-eight awards from a wide range of professional societies. In addition, Dr. Eckenfelder was an accomplished professor with a teaching career that included positions at Manhattan College, the University of Texas at Austin, and Vanderbilt University. He was known internationally as an early developer and innovator of biological treatment technology that is now considered a standard skill employed by practicing professionals, worldwide.

Information on where to submit a nomination package can be found here: http://www.aeesp.org/awards/eckenfelder-graduate-research.

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