Environmental Quality

Environmental research at the UWRL emphasizes an integrated engineering and science approach to the environmental quality of land, water, and air. A multidisciplinary group of engineers and scientists conducts basic and applied laboratory and field research aimed at understanding and finding sustainable solutions to water challenges that occur in the innumerable interactions between humans and water.
Lab Manager
Joan McLean | 435-797-1522 | joan.mclean@usu.edu
Environmental Engineering Academic Program Head
Randy Martin | 435-797-1585 | randy.martin@usu.edu
Academic Information
Civil and Environmental Engineering


  • Air Quality
  • Mobile & Area Source Air Pollutant Emissions
  • Basin-Scale Water Quality Modeling & Measurement
  • Bioremediation
  • Biosolids Management
  • Drinking Water Treatment & Production
  • Water & Wastewater Treatment & Reclamation
  • Fate & Transport of Toxic and Hazardous Contaminants
  • On-site Wastewater Treatment
  • Stormwater Management
  • Surface Water / Groundwater Quality

Highlighted Projects

Environmental Quality Laboratory Instrumentation

Organic Analysis & Sample Preparation

  • Agilent 6890/5973 GC/MS system for headspace analysis of volatile compounds in solids or liquids
  • Aglient 7890/5973 with Perkin-Elmer Thermal Desorber for analysis of air samples concentrated on sorbent tubes.
  • Agilent 7890/5975C GC/MS system with CombiPal sample introduction system for liquid, headspace or Solid Phase Micro Extraction (SPME) analysis. Capable of positive or negative EI and CI ionization.
  • Varian 3000 GC/TCD for % level digester gas analysis
  • Shimadzu GC14 with HID universal detector for hydrogen analysis.
  • Shimadzu GC14 with FID/TCD and headspace sampler for light hydrocarbon and fixed has analysis
  • Aglient 1200/6220 Liquid Chromatograph/Time-of-flight Mass Spectrometer for untargeted screening in liquid samples using high-resolution mass spectrometry.
  • Agilent 1290/6490 LC-QqQ triple quadrupole LC/MS/MS for ultra-low (ng/L) detection limits for target compounds in aqueous matrices.
  • Agilent 1100 HPLC with Diode Array (DAD) and Evaporative Light Scattering (ELSD) detectors for traditional HPLC/UV-Vis methods, in addition to analysis of compounds lacking a chromophore (i.e. sugars)
  • Air samples via sorbent tubes
  • Air samples via direct injection through sample valve
  • headspace samples in 20 mL headspace vials
  • Solid Phase Extraction (SPE) of organic compounds in water samples on C18 or mixed-mode resin cartridges.
  • Solid Phase Microextraction (SPME)
  • Liquid-Liquid extractions via sep funnel.
  • Liquid-Solid extractions via traditional Sohxlet or ThermoFisher-Dionix Accelerate Solvent Extraction methods.

Elemental Analysis & Sample Preparation

  • Agilent 7700x Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer for analysis of trace elements
  • Perkin-Elmer AAnalyst 800 Atomic Absorption Spectrometer for analysis of metals by flame AA, and trace metals by graphite furnace AA, and arsenic, selenium, and mercury by hydride generation AA.
  • Milestone Ethos EZ Microwave Digestion System
  • Environmental Express Hotblocks

Nutrient Analysis

  • Seal AQ2+ Automated Discrete Analyzer for ammonium, nitrate, nitrite and phosphate

Radiochemical Analysis

  • Beckman LS 6500 Liquid Scintillation System for 14C and 3H tracer studies.
  • Biological Oxidizers for sample preparation for radiochemical analysis of plant and soil samples

Ion Chromatography

  • Dionex DX-500 ion chromatograph for common anions and volatile fatty acids.
  • Dionex DX-1300 ion chromatograph (including a reagent free system, a gradient pump (GP40) and an electrical conductivity detector (CD20)) for common cations and anions and volatile fatty acids.
  • Dionex DX-1600 ion chromatograph with post column reaction and UV-VIS detection for hexavalent chromium.


  • Bio-Rad iQ5 Real Time PCR Detection System for quantitation of targeted DNA sequences
  • Thermo Electronics Px2 thermal cycler for standard PCR
  • EC-Apparatus Co EC 570 gel electrophoresis apparatus
  • FisherBiotech Model FBTI 816 Gel transilluminator and Kodak Gel Logic 100 imaging system for gel imaging and processing
  • Thermo Scientific Nanodrop 1000 spectrophotometer for quantitation of total DNA
  • Thermo Scientific Nanodrop 3300 fluorospectrometer for quantitation of total DNA
  • Four reach-in incubators that can be operated at sub- and super-ambient temperatures, a laminar flow hood, biological safety hood, a -70° C Revco freezer, and microscopes with phase-contrast and epifluorescence capability

Other Resources

  • Two Coy anaerobic glove bags
  • Two constant temperature rooms of approximately 400 square feet of floor space each that are capable of maintaining temperatures of between 10° and 30 ± 2° C

Service and Outreach

Board and Committee Memberships:

American Water Works Association — Scholarship and Student Outreach Committee member, Intermountain Section,Laurie S. McNeill

Cache Valley Solid Waste Advisory Board —technical member, R. Ryan Dupont

Salt Lake County Solid Waste Management Council—technical representative, R. Ryan Dupont

State of Utah Drinking Water Board—member, David K. Stevens

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — Technical Qualification Board outside ad hoc member, R. Ryan Dupont

Utah Department of Environmental Quality — Jordan River TMDL Technical Advisory Board, technical expert, R. Ryan Dupont

Utah Air Quality Board — Board Chair, Randy Martin

Engineers Without Borders:
EWB-USA supports community-driven development programs worldwide collaborating with local partners to design and implement sustainable engineering projects and creating transformative experiences and responsible leaders.

Environmental Engineering Education

Faculty with the Environmental Engineering Division have joint appointments with the Utah Water Research Laboratory and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering at USU.

The academic curriculum incorporates specialized coursework and research and training experiences that give students valuable experience in understanding and addressing environmental issues and challenges in the State of Utah and throughout the world.