Environmental Engineering

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

The Environmental Engineering program is part of the Environmental Engineering and Sustainability cluster, which also includes 1) the Nanoscale Interactions program; and 2) the Environmental Sustainability program.

Environmental engineering is an interdisciplinary field that applies chemical, biological, and physical scientific principles to protect human and ecological health.

The goal of the Environmental Engineering program is to support potentially transformative fundamental research that applies scientific and engineering principles to 1) prevent, minimize, or re-use solid, liquid, and gaseous discharges of pollution to soil, water, and air by closing resource loops or through other measures; 2) mitigate the ecological and human-health impacts of such releases by smart/adaptive/reactive amendments or manipulation of the environment, and 3) remediate polluted environments through engineered chemical, biological, and/or geo-physical processes.

Integral to achieving these goals is a fundamental understanding of the transport and biogeochemical reactivity of pollutants in the environment. Therefore, research on environmental micro/biology, environmental chemistry, and environmental geophysics may be relevant providing the research has a clear objective of protecting human and ecological health.

Full Proposal Accepted Anytime

Proposals submitted to other program announcements and solicitations, including the Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER), must meet their respective deadlines; please refer to the deadline dates specified in the appropriate announcement or solicitation. Proposals for EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) or Rapid Response Research (RAPID) can be submitted at any time but Principal Investigators must contact the cognizant program director prior to submission. Proposals for supplements or workshops can be submitted at any time, and PIs are encouraged to contact the cognizant PD prior to submission.

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

Major areas of interest include (but are not limited to):  

  • Building a future without pollution or waste: Investigation of innovative biogeochemical processes that prevent or minimize the production of waste; waste valorization and other research that will lead to new technologies to extract resources from waste streams to close the resource loop.
  • Sustainable supply and protection of water: Investigation of innovative biogeochemical processes that remove, biologically or chemically transform, and/or prevent the release of contaminants in surface and groundwater; innovative processes for recovery of water, nutrients, and other resources from wastewater, saline water, or brines; innovative approaches to smart and adaptive management of surface water, groundwater, and urban watersheds and storm water to maintain/improve quality and prevent downstream impacts from nutrients and other water constituents. 
  • Environmental chemistry, fate, and transport of nutrients and contaminants of emerging concern in air, water, soils, and sediments: Investigation of transport and biogeochemical reactivity in the environment; environmental forensics to identify sources and reaction pathways; field- and laboratory scale experimental research that bridges gaps between data and predictions from molecular, continuum, and field-scale modeling.
  • Environmental engineering of the built environment: Research to understand the biogeochemical reactivity of the built environment with the goal of enhancing and improving human and ecological health; research that will lead to new technologies to improve outdoor and indoor air quality; research to understand how drinking water and wastewater chemical characteristics and microbial community structure impact or are affected by water quality and human health.

NOTE: Proposals with a scientific focus on chemical or physical separation processes (for example, materials or processes for reverse osmosis, membrane distillation, and hypo-filtration) should be submitted to the Interfacial Engineering program (CBET 1417). Proposals that seek to advance fundamental and quantitative understanding of the behaviors of nanomaterials and nanosystems should be submitted to the Nanoscale Interactions program (CBET 1179).  Proposals focused on in vitro molecular-level environmental chemistry research should be submitted to Environmental Chemical Sciences program (CHE-ECS 6882). Proposals focusing on industrial ecology, green engineering, and ecological/earth systems engineering should be submitted to the Environmental Sustainability program (CBET 7643). Proposals whose main research focus is on materials development, sensors, or environmental monitoring that do not seek to understand biogeochemical reactivity mechanisms or treatment efficiency are not encouraged and may be returned without review.

Innovative proposals outside of these specific interest areas may be considered. However, prior to submission, it is recommended that the PI contact the program director to avoid the possibility of the proposal being returned without review.



Amount Description

The duration of unsolicited awards is generally one to three years. The maximum annual award size is $110,000 per year for single investigator proposals and $140,000 per year for multi-investigator collaborative proposals. Principal Investigators requesting a higher amount without first consulting with the Program Director prior to proposal submission may have the proposal returned without review.

Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences