Earth and Environmental Engineering

Program Category: PhD Programs

Chair: Upmanu Lall


Degree Programs: Full-Time: MPhil, PhD

Please note: The degree for this program is conferred by GSAS, but program specifics, such as admissions, degree requirements, and financial aid, are administered by other schools of the university.

The School of Mines of Columbia University was founded in 1864 as the first mining and metallurgy school in the United States. A hundred years later, the School of Mines was renamed to Henry Krumb School of Mines (HKSM) in honor of its generous benefactor. The Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering (DEEE) is the major component of HKSM and the successor of its traditional mining/mineral programs. DEEE is dedicated to the environmentally conscious provision of primary materials (minerals, fuel, water) to humanity and to the use of similar technologies for the management of wastes and land/water remediation. Most of the faculty members are associated with the Earth and Engineering Center of Columbia University. The core scientific directions of DEEE research are:

  • Material Flows through the Economy and the Environment: environmentally sustainable extraction and processing of materials; recycling of used materials; management of residues; understanding and mitigating anthropogenic impacts on the environment
  • Management of Water Resources: understanding and predicting the processes that govern the availability and quality of water resources; vulnerability of water resources to unbridled use and to industrial activities; necessary actions for mitigation/remediation of environmental impacts of human activity
  • Contaminants in the Environment: soil-water decontamination, bioremediation (coordination with Environmental Molecular Science Institute)
  • Energy Resources: mitigation of environmental impacts of energy production; resource recovery from waste materials; energy efficient systems; new energy sources; carbon sequestration strategies

Research centers associated with Earth and Environmental Engineering include the following:

  • Earth Engineering Center: dedicated to the reconfiguring of industrial activities and products with full knowledge of the environmental consequences. Research areas include contaminant transport in the subsurface, flow phenomena in saturated and unsaturated soils, hydrogeology, numerical modeling of estuarine flow and transport processes, and integrated waste management.
  • NSF Industry/University Cooperative Center for Surfactants (IUCRC): HKSM is the home of this center, which is sponsored by fifteen companies and has as its aim to develop and characterize novel surfactants for industrial applications.
  • Langmuir Center for Colloids and Interfaces (LCCI) brings together experts from mineral engineering, applied chemistry, chemical engineering, biological sciences, and chemistry to probe complex interactions of colloids and interfaces with surfactants and macromolecules.
  • International Research Institute for Climate Prediction (IRI): the IRI is the world's leading institute for the development and application of seasonal to interannual climate forecasts. The mission of the IRI is to enhance society's capability to understand, anticipate and manage the impacts of seasonal climate fluctuations, in order to improve human welfare and the environment, especially in developing countries. This mission is to be conducted through strategic and applied research, education and capacity building, and provision of forecast and information products, with an emphasis on practical and verifiable utility and partnerships.

All applicants to this program must apply through the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. Please visit its website for more information about graduate admissions.

English Proficiency Requirement:

Admitted PhD students who are required to submit official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) results (international students) must attain level 10 by passing the level 10 examination administered by the American Learning Program (ALP). International students must take the ALP examination at the fall orientation. For more information, see the Fu Foundation's bulletin.