W. Wesley Eckenfelder Graduate Research Award

2019 Recipient: Christopher Lawson

Faculty Advisor: Katherine McMahon

Eckenfelder Graduate Research

Christopher Lawson is currently a PhD Candidate in Environmental Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison working with Professor Katherine McMahon. His research investigates the metabolism of anaerobic ammonium-oxidizing (anammox) bacteria and the interactions they engage in with other poorly characterized nitrogen cycling microorganisms using systems biology approaches. His goal is to understand and predict how local metabolic interactions between organisms in microbiomes give rise to emergent process-level functions, such as carbon and nitrogen cycling during wastewater treatment.

Following graduation in the Fall of 2019, Chris plans to continue his career in research and teaching, focused on advancing the engineering of microbiomes for resource recovery from waste streams.

Chris completed his BS and MS degrees in Environmental Engineering at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada) and has 3 years of industry experience working as a water & wastewater process engineer in Alberta.

Past Recipients





Andrew Pfluger

Junko Munakata-Marr and Linda Figueroa


No recipient


Dr. Matthew Verbyla


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).

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

Ed Bouwer, Ph.D.
Department of Environmental Health and Engineering
Johns Hopkins University
e-mail: bouwer@jhu.edu; Tel: 410-516-7437

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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