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Ecological Engineering (M.S., Ph.D.)

Phytoremediation is a collective term for a number of processes that utilize bacteria, fungi, green plants to stabilize or remediate contaminated sites. Remediation processes by these organisms include stabilization, filtration, extraction, sequestration, and/or detoxification of contaminants. Hardwood species such as willow and poplar are used to create an environment that promotes evaporation to reduce percolation into contaminated soils. In addition, improved soil environment is more conducive to degradational processes.

We have been working primarily with development of short rotation woody crops on degraded lands such as brownfield sites in New York. We have had a several-year long project with particular emphasis on phytohydraulic applications to prevent pollutant migration to Onondaga Lake near Syracuse, NY. We also collaborate with wetland restoration ecologists in assessing the utilization of waste sites to restore salt marshes in central New York.

We are increasingly engaged in evaluating performance of green infrastructure systems such as rain gardens, green roofs and bioretention basins. Collaborative arrangements with restoration ecologists and landscape architects are investigating diverse projects such as design of green roof vegetated systems that are based on native plants. We have a functioning rain garden on campus that is instrumented with level and temperature sensors to compute the water balance and provide a resource for examining water quality improvements.

Students in this study area are supported through coursework in Phytotechnology (listed as ERE 796); field studies involving lysimeters, tensiometers, climate monitoring, eddy covariance; and model application.

Representative research projects, theses, presentations and publications:

  • Ofori, Deborah. 2010. Water and Heat Fluxes through a Willow-based Evapotranspiration Landfill Cover System. M.S. Thesis. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Syracuse, NY.
  • Douglas Daley and Timothy Volk. 2009. Using Short-Rotation Willow Crops for Leachate Management and Biomass Production on Solvay Wastebeds. Presentation at Ninth Annual Meeting, American Ecological Engineering Society.
  • Douglas Daley, Timothy Volk and Lawrence Abrahamson. 2009. Success of Willow Grown in Amended Solvay Waste as a Landfill Cover System. Presentation at Annual Meeting of International Phytoechnology Society.
  • Daniel Brown. 2007. Determination of ET Landfill Cover System Design Parameters Using the Simultaneous Heat and Water (SHAW) Model. M.S. Thesis. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Syracuse, NY.
  • Dan Brown, Douglas Daley and Timothy Volk. 2007. Calibration of the Simultaneous Heat and Water (SHAW) Model using Sap Flow Measurements of a Salix-based Evapotranspiration Landfill Cover System.
  • Industrial Waste Contamination: Past, Present and Future. Sandra Lislovs. Summer 2005. Clearwaters. Published by New York Water Environment Federation.

Contact Doug Daley, djdaley@esf.edu  for more information about this graduate studies area.