Four New Jersey Institute of Technology experts are available to discuss levee rebuilding, sewer and underground utilities and waste water management—all issues facing rescuers and future reconstruction efforts in areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
Sewer and Underground Utility Expert: Priscilla Nelson
“Underground pipelines, such as sewers and utilities move when stresses change – and flooding causes stress changes. Underground conduits may move upwards or downwards, to the side or they may buckle or be pulled apart - it’s important to be aware of the damage you don’t see,” said civil engineer and natural disaster specialist Priscilla Nelson, PhD, provost at NJIT.
Nelson numbers among the world’s geotechnical engineering experts and is the author of more than 120 technical and scientific publications. Her forte has been the design and construction of underground facilities and tunnels. She is a former senior executive at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a former University of Texas professor. She received her doctorate in geotechnical engineering from Cornell University, master’s degrees in engineering from University of Oklahoma and Indiana University, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester in geological sciences. Contact Nelson (Priscilla.firstname.lastname@example.org) 973-596-3220 (office) or 973-669-4654 (home).
Levee Expert: John Schuring
“It appears that the levee failures in New Orleans were induced by subsurface seepage through the soils, not by overtopping,” said John Schuring., PhD and PE, professor of civil and environmental engineering at NJIT. “Given the fact that the levees were built and retrofitted many times over the years, and also given the fact that other weaknesses in the soil may exist, care must be taken when the city is dewatered to avoid another failure.”
Schuring holds several U.S. patents for developing methods of treating polluted soil. Schuring has consulted with engineering firms as an expert in pile foundations, differential settlement and slope stability of buildings. He has worked as an engineer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy and the New Jersey Department of Transportation. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers; a member of engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi; and a member of the New York Academy of Science. Schuring received his doctorate and bachelor’s degree in geotechnical engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and his master’s degree in the same field from the University of Alaska. Contact Schuring (email@example.com) at 908-295-7070 (cell); 908-852-6716 (home); 973-596-5849 (office).
Waste Water Management Expert: Hsin-Neng Hsieh
“The flood waters in New Orleans are potentially infectious. Removal and treatment will be slow and difficult, and even after the water is pumped out, the infection hazard will remain for some time to come,” Hsin-Neng Hsieh, PhD, PE, professor of civil and environmental engineering at NJIT.
Hsieh’s current research includes analyzing the low-cost treatment of municipal wastewater; treatment of industrial sludge and the impact of combined sewer overflow on water quality. Combined sewer overflow relates to older cities, whose pipes handle both storm water and residential wastewater. The two kinds of water eventually discharge from the pipes and into estuaries, streams and rivers. When the combined pipe system was designed, Hsieh says, engineers assumed it was safe. But current engineers no longer assume that: Hsieh is thus studying the effect of a combined pipe system on water quality and drinking water. He received his bachelor’s degree from Cheng-Kung University, Taiwan, his master’s degree from University of Iowa, and his doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh. Contact Hsieh (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 732-257-5665 (home); 973-596-5859 (office).
Waste Water Management Expert: Taha Marhaba
“The biggest risks to face the population after the floodwaters recede are the heavy metals, synthetic organics like PCBs and other contaminants that will be left behind in the sludges as well as the sediments of Lake Ponchartrain,” said Taha F. Marhaba, PhD, associate professor of environmental engineering and director of the New Jersey Applied Water Research Center at NJIT.
Marhaba has an expertise in water quality and most notably has developed what is known as the spectral fluorescent signatures (SFS) technique. The technique is used to rapidly identify organics in water – organics that could be problematic. The SFS acts like a fingerprint of water, characterizing its organic content and allowing researchers to see if the water contains natural or unnatural sources. Most importantly, the SFS allows researchers to determine the organic character of watersheds and to check the water quality. Marhaba’s work has been published in Water Research, Journal of Environmental Engineering, Journal of Hazardous Materials and others. He received a doctorate and a master’s degree in environmental engineering and a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering all from Rutgers University, New Brunswick. Contact Marhaba (email@example.com) at 732-668-6942 (cell); 973-642-4599).