Charles Driscoll

Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Charles Driscoll Selected for the 2023 Clarke Prize in Water Science

Professor Charles Driscoll in a river with two student researchers

Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Charles Driscoll has been selected to receive the 2023 Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Water Science and Technology from the National Water Research Institute. Driscoll is the University and Distinguished Professor of Environmental Systems Engineering in College of Engineering and Computer Science. 

The Clarke Prize is considered one of the most prestigious awards pertaining to water science. It is awarded to thought leaders in water research, science, technology, or policy in the United States. Past honorees have included some of the most significant figures in civil and environmental engineering; the water, biological, physical, chemical, health, and political sciences; and public planning and policy.

Driscoll’s research largely involves characterization and quantifying the impacts of air pollution, such as acid rain and mercury, changing climate, and land and water disturbances on the structure and function of ecosystems, and pathways of ecosystem recovery. Much of his work has focused on forests and associated aquatic resources, including long-term studies at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, NH and the Huntington Forest in the Adirondacks, NY. Recent work has included strategies for the decarbonization of sectors and achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Professor Charles Driscoll

Over the past 40 years, Driscoll has advanced new analytical techniques, established and maintained long-term measurements and experiments, and developed a series of research and predictive models that simulate transformations of major chemical elements in forest vegetation, soil and surface waters in response to air pollution, climate and land disturbance. Beyond theory, he is interested in testing ‘in situ’ strategies to reverse the damaging effects of acid rain and mercury contamination, eutrophication, urbanization, and climate change. Driscoll has testified at US Congressional and state legislative committee hearings, and provided briefings to government agencies, industry and stakeholder groups on environmental issues. He has served on local, national and international committees pertaining to environmental management and policy.   

Driscoll will receive the award and give a lecture in Irvine, California, on October 21, 2023. For information about attending the event, fill out the form on the Clarke Prize page.

Learning Through Research: Hennecys Perez Castro ’25

Hennecys Perez Castro is a sophomore environmental engineering major from the Bronx, NY. In her short time at the College of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS), Hennecys has participated in the Air Force ROTC program, a Marine officer program, she is an active member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), and she is doing paid research relevant to her field of study.

“Doing research creates a great baseline to explore what you want to do. Being at an R1 university means there is a lot of funding and that opens up a lot of opportunity,” says Hennecys.

Hennecys learned about research opportunities through ECS Laboratory Manager and SHPE advisor Mario Montesdeoca. He helped her get started as a trainee in the environmental engineering labs as a first-year student. It gave her an opportunity to ask questions and learn how to apply for a Research Experience for Undergraduates.

Hennecys’ first research project involved measuring CO2 and O2 concentrations from different soil depths to explore soil respiration response and testing new low-cost CO2 sensor technology. During the fall semester of her sophomore year, she presented her research at the Long-Term Ecological Research All Scientists Meeting in California and took second place in a poster competition.

In addition to her ongoing CO2 censor testing, Hennecys is facilitating a lab project under University Professor of Environmental Systems and Distinguished Professor Charles Driscoll. The project involves conducting a sediment core analysis on samples collected from Skaneateles Lake just west of Syracuse. The research is a continuation of a larger project aimed at determining how the lake sediment is evolving due to the environment. Currently, Hennecys and her lab partner Oliver Raycroft are prepping the samples for chemical extraction. Once extracted, they will begin a data analysis to determine the effects of algae blooms, marine life viability, and to measure phosphorus concentration.

“The samples in the sediment cores tell a story. This research is small part of a bigger story,” says Hennecys. “The overall goal is important because this is information people need and can use.”

Research has helped Hennecys build a network and skillsets that will be important for her career development. It’s just one example of how she is utilizing resources available through ECS to prepare for her future. She says the support she has received through the ECS Office of Inclusive Excellence and SHPE, along with participation in several Syracuse University student leadership programs has augmented her education.

“Taking about my research has taught me how to present to a non-engineering audience. Overall, research is helping me learn skills I need to incorporate as I look forward to my career,” says Hennecys. “In addition to being a peer leader and an orientation leader, research helps me connect with others and build my confidence for post-graduation.”

Funding for Hennecys’ research is provided by Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program, Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the The Syracuse Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Engagement.