Charles T. Driscoll

University Professor of Environmental Systems and Distinguished Professor, National Academy of Engineering Member

Civil and Environmental Engineering

335A Link Hall



  • Ph.D., Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, 1980.
  • M.S., Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, 1976.
  • B.S. (with distinction), Civil Engineering, University of Maine 1974.

Lab/Center Affiliation:

  • Center for Environmental Systems Engineering

Research Interests:

  • Aquatic chemistry
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Climate change science and engineering
  • Environmental quality modeling
  • Ecosystem restoration
  • Ecosystem science
  • Limnology
  • Soil chemistry

Current Research:

My scholarly work addresses the effects of disturbance on forest, urban, freshwater and marine ecosystems, including air pollution (acid and mercury deposition), land-use, and climate change. Current research focuses on recovery of eastern forest watersheds from acidic deposition; health and environmental justice co-benefits of decarbonization of the electricity sector; ecosystem restoration; ecosystem response to changing climate; mitigation of harmful algal blooms; and atmospheric deposition, watershed and surface water transport and transformations, and biotic exposure of mercury. The Driscoll laboratory has published more than 520 articles in peer-reviewed journals.  According to Google Scholar, these works have been cited over 53,000 times, with an h-index of 115. I have been designated as a highly cited researcher by Clarivate Analytics. I am a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Clarke Prize Laureate.

To advance the “broader impacts” of research, I try to serve society through participation in various national and international committees and panels; advising federal and state agencies; working with natural resource managers and policy makers; briefing Congress and state officials; and informing the media and the public on the results of research and environmental policy issues. I am particularly interested in multidisciplinary activities, and synthesis and translation of scientific and engineering research. These activities inform my research. Finally, I am interested in improving and advancing science communication. I want science and engineering information to be accessible to the public and policy-makers to help guide cost-effective decisions on natural resource management.

Courses Taught:

  • Aquatic Chemistry
  • Climate Change: Law, Science, Perception and Policy
  • Field methods in Environmental Science and Engineering
  • Fundamentals of Engineering Review

I teach undergraduate and graduate-level classes in environmental engineering, sustainable civil and environmental systems, aquatic chemistry and biogeochemistry.  Graduate students, undergraduate students and even some high school students who work in my laboratory. These students have a keen interest in research. They are encouraged to interpret their results in the context of environmental problems and issues, to interact with the research community beyond Syracuse University, present the findings of their research at professional meetings and publish in peer-reviewed journals.


  • Clarke Prize Laureate, 2023
  • Syracuse University Chancellor’s Lifetime Achievement Award, 2020.
  • Lead author, United Nations Environmental Programme, Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services report on Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment, 2016-2018.
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science 2018.
  • New Horizons, Lecture Clarkson University 2016
  • Batsheva de Rothschild Fellowship, Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Lectureship at Israel University, 2015
  • Adirondack Research Consortium, Adirondack Achievement Award, 2012
  • Member, National Research Council, Board of Environmental Studies and Toxicology, 2011-2017
  • Member, S. National Committee for Soil Science, The National Academies, 2008-2010
  • Member, National Academy of Engineering, 2007

Selected Publications:

Brannon, M., A. C\A. Scholz, C. T. Driscoll. 2023. Shallow sediments as a phosphorus reservoir in an oligotrophic lake: Linkages to harmful algal blooms. Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences, 128:e2022JG007029. doi:10.1029/2022JG007029.

Caron, S., S. M. Garvey, J. Gewirtzman, K. Schultz, J. M. Bhatnagar, C. T. Driscoll, L. Hutyra, P. H. Templer. 2023. Urbanization and fragmentation have opposite effects on soil nitrogen availability in temperate forest ecosystems. Global Change Biology, 29:2156-2171. doi:10.1111/gcb.16611.

Contosta, A., J. Battles,J. L. Campbell, C. T. Driscoll, S. Garlick, R. T. Holmes, G. Likens, N. Rodenhouse, S. Rogers, P. Templer, M. Vadeboncoeur and P. Groffman. 2023. Early warning signals of change suggest declining resilience in the biology and biogeochemistry of a northern hardwood forest. Environmental Research Letters. (in press)

E. B., S. Zhang, C. T. Driscoll and T. Wen. 2023. Human and natural impacts on the U.S. freshwater salinization and alkalinization: A machine learning perspective. Science of the Total Environment, 889:164138. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.164138.

Gilliam, F., D. A. Burns, S. Watmough, S. Frey and C. T. Driscoll. 2023. Chapter 12 in Atmospheric nitrogen deposition to global forests spatial variation, impacts, and management implications. E. Du and W. Vries (Ed.). Academic Press, ISBN: 9780323911405.

McDonnell, T. C., J. Phelan, A. F. Talhelm, B. J. Cosby, C. T. Driscoll, T. J. Sullivan and T. Greaver. 2023. Protection of terrestrial ecosystems in the Eastern United States from elevated atmospheric deposition of sulfur and nitrogen: A comparison of steady-state and dynamic model results. Environmental Pollution, 318,120887. doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2022.120887.

Ontman, R., P. Groffman, C. T. Driscoll and Z. Cheng. 2023. Surprising relationships between soil pH and microbial biomass and activity in a northern hardwood forest. Biogeochemistry, 163:265-277. doi:10.1007/s10533-023-01031-0.

Berdugo Moreno, M. B., M. Dovciak and C. T. Driscoll. 2022. The roles of the moss layer in mediating tree seedling environmental stress, mercury exposure, and regeneration in high-elevation conifer forests. American Journal of Ecosystems. doi: 10.1007/s10021-022-00806-0.

Campbell, J. L., E. Boose, C. T.  Driscoll, H. A. Dugan, P. M. Groffman, C. Rhett Jackson, J. B. Jones, J. A. Jones, G. P. Juday, N. R. Lottig, B. E. Penaluna, R. W.  Ruess, K. Suding, J. R Thompson and J. K. Zimmerman. 2022. Forests and freshwater ecosystem responses to climate change and variability at US LTER sites. BioScience, 72(9): 851-870. doi:10.1093/biosci/biab124.

Driscoll, C. T. 2022. Acid and mercury deposition effects on forest and freshwater aquatic ecosystems. Pages 1-14 in S. A. Levin, editor. Encyclopedia of Biodiversity, third edition. Elsevier Inc., Waltham, MA: Academic Press. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-384719-5.00303-8.

Hinckley, E. and C. T. Driscoll. 2022. Fertilizer applications replace atmospheric deposition to supply sulfur to Midwest croplands. Nature Communications Earth and Environment, 3(324). doi:10.1038/s43247-022-00662-9.

Huang, H., W. Wu, K. J. Elliott, C. F. Miniat and C. T. Driscoll. 2022. Impact of climate change on hydrochemical processes at two high-elevation forested watersheds in the southern Appalachians, U.S., Frontiers in Forests and Global Change. doi:10.3389/ffgc.2022.853729.

Jones, J. A. and C. T. Driscoll. 2022. Long-term ecological research and ecosystem response to climate change. BioScience,72(9):814-826. doi:10.1093/biosci/biac021

Gerson, J. R., W. Pann,  N. Szpona, B. Bergquist, E. Broadbent, C. T. Driscoll, L. Fernandez, H. Hsu-Kim, W. Pan, M. Silman, E. Ury, C. Vega, A. Almeyda Zambrano and E. S. Bernhardt. 2022. Amazon forests capture high levels of atmospheric mercury pollution from artisanal gold mining. Nature Communications, 13:559. doi:10.1038/s41467-022-27997-3.

Olson, C. I., B. M. Geyman, C. P. Thackray, D. P. Krabbenhoft, M. T. Tate, E. M. Sunderland and C. T. Driscoll. 2022. Mercury in soils of the conterminous United States: Patterns and pools. Environmental Research Letters, 17:1-9. doi: 0.1088/1748-9326/ac79c2.

Pavlovic, N. R., S.Y. Chang, J. Huang, K. Craig, C. Clark, K. Horn and C. T. Driscoll. 2022. Empirical nitrogen and sulfur critical loads of U.S. tree species and their uncertainties with machine learning. Science of the Total Environment,  857: 159252. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.159252.

Vasilakos. P., H. Shen, Q. Mehdi, P. Wilcoxen, C. T. Driscoll, K. F. Lambert, D. Burtraw, M. Domeshek, A. G. Russell. 2022. US clean energy futures – air quality benefits of zero carbon energy policies. Atmosphere, 13(9):1401- 1411. doi:10.3390/atmos13091401

Wasswa, J., C. T. Driscoll and T. Zeng. 2022. Contrasting impacts of photochemical and microbial processing on the photoreactivity of dissolved organic matter in an Adirondack lake watershed. Environmental Science & Technology, 56(3):1688-1701doi: 10.1021/acs.est.1c06047

Driscoll, C. T., K. F. Lambert, D. Burtraw, J. J. Buonocore, S. B. Reid, and H. Fakhraei. 2015 online. US power plant carbon standards and clean air and health co-benefits. Nature Climate Change 5:535-540.

Fakhraei, H., C. T. Driscoll, P. Selvendiran, J. V. DePinto, J. Bloomfield, S. Quinn, and C. Rowell. 2014. Development of a total maximum daily load (TMDL) for acid-impaired lakes in the Adirondack region of New York. Atmospheric Environment 95:277-287.

Battles, J. J., T. J. Fahey, C. T. Driscoll, J. D. Blum, and C. E. Johnson. 2014. Restoring soil calcium reverses forest decline. Environmental Science & Technology Letters 1:15-19. Driscoll, C. T., R. P. Mason, H. M. Chan, D. J. Jacob, and N. Pirrone. 2013. Mercury as a global pollutant: Sources, pathways, and effects. Environmental Science & Technology 47:4967-4983.