Job announcement: Applications/Process Engineer, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center/Illinois State Water Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) and the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) are part of the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign which is centrally located between Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis.   PRI houses five large scientific surveys covering a wide range of expertise including biology, water resources, climate, geology, sustainable technology, and archaeology.  PRI’s mission is to provide objective, integrated scientific research and service, in cooperation with other academic and research units of the University of Illinois and elsewhere, that allow citizens and decision-makers to make choices that ensure sustainable economic development, enduring environmental quality, and cultural resource preservation for the people, businesses, and governments of Illinois.  To learn more about ISTC please visit

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center is seeking an Applications/Process Engineer to organize and perform experiments in support of process development; data collection and analysis; report writing and project deliverables.

Major Duties and Responsibilities

  1. Follow all safety instructions and guidelines in accordance with PRI and University policies and maintain work spaces
  2. Organize and carry out bench scale and pilot scale experiments in accordance with directions from PIs / other senior personnel associated with project
  3. Collect, organize, and analyze data resulting from experiments related to process development, materials synthesis, water and wastewater treatment and analysis
  4. Prepare technical reports, progress reports, and final reports in accordance with sponsor guidelines
  5. Supervise, mentor, and lead undergraduate students, graduate students, and hourly employees to achieve success and foster a culture of innovation and high-level performance at both individual and organizational levels. This includes task assignment, scheduling, ongoing performance management with coaching and feedback, and travel approval.
  6. Review current chemical/environmental/sustainability engineering literature as relevant to assigned tasks
  7. Carry out design calculations or process simulations at a level consistent with education/experience
  8. Keep abreast of developments in this discipline
  9. Perform other duties as needed in order to further the mission and goals of PRI

Position Requirements and Qualifications


Required: B.S. Chemical Engineering/Mechanical Engineering/Environmental Engineering/other relevant scientific fields. Alternate degree fields will be considered/accepted depending on the nature and depth of the experience as it relates to this position.

Preferred:  M.S. degree in above noted fields.


Required:  A minimum of one year relevant work experience.

Preferred: Experience in a process development environment. Experience and/or familiarity with membrane processes, membrane fabrication/synthesis/modification and wastewater treatment a plus. Supervisory and/or mentoring a plus.

Knowledge Requirements

Required: Coursework in unit operations, process design, thermodynamics and reaction kinetics. Knowledge and familiarity with design of experiments and use of statistical software. Ability to work with Excel, and Matlab or equivalent. Ability to assemble and operate laboratory/pilot scale equipment. Effective communication, personal relations, collaboration, organizational, teamwork, and leadership skills. Demonstrated ability to perform effectively in a diverse and fast-paced work environment consisting of multiple and changing priorities with stringent deadlines, under minimal supervision. Attention to detail, sound judgment, and strong conflict resolution skills. Proficiency in commonly-employed software and databases.

Preferred: Familiarity with process simulation and modeling. Generate engineering drawings using Autocad or similar. Knowledge and use of analytical chemistry equipment such as AA, ICP-MS, GC, LC, UV and IR spectrophotometry.

The starting date is negotiable after the closing date. 

Salary is commensurate with qualifications and experience. 

This is a full-time, academic professional position.

Please complete your candidate profile at  and upload a cover letter, CV/resume, and the names and contact information (including e-mail addresses) for three professional references by September 10, 2018.  Interviews may be conducted before the closing date; however, no hiring decision will be made until after the closing date.  All requested information must be submitted for your application to be considered.

For further information regarding application procedures, you may contact Hannah Dorsey at (217) 333-4978 or  The University of Illinois conducts criminal background checks on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer.

The University of Illinois is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action employer. Minorities, women, veterans and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. For more information, visit To learn more about the University’s commitment to diversity, please visit

7 years later, new study shows East Chicago kids exposed to more lead because of flawed government report

Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

After federal officials assessed potential health hazards in East Chicago seven years ago, they declared young children could play safely in neighborhoods built on or near former industrial sites contaminated with brain-damaging lead.

Now the same government agency confirms it woefully misled parents and city officials.

  • Find the full ATSDR report here.
  • Lakeshore Public Radio has a compilation of their coverage here.

EPA’s documentation about the USS Lead Superfund Siteis  here. Below is a site summary:

The USS Lead Superfund site is located in East Chicago, Indiana. The site includes part of the former USS Lead facility along with nearby commercial, municipal and residential areas. The primary contaminants of concern are lead and arsenic. The USS Lead site was listed on the National Priorities List of the worst contaminated sites in the country in 2009. The Superfund site is broken into two Operable Units. The first, OU1, has been divided into three zones. These zones include a public housing complex and residential properties. OU2 includes soil at the former USS Lead facility, as well as groundwater beneath both that facility and the residential neighborhoods.

Turning coffee waste into coffee cups

Read the full story from Macquarie University.

A Macquarie PhD student believes he’s come up with a way to turn coffee waste into biodegradable plastic coffee cups.

He’s developed a method to turn coffee grounds into lactic acid, which can then be used to produce biodegradable plastics, and is now refining the process as he finishes his PhD.

Anheuser-Busch’s new accelerator seeks sustainability solutions

Read the full story at SupplyChainDive.

Anheuser-Busch is looking to bring “anyone with a passion for building a more sustainable future” together at its recently announced 100+ Accelerator program to fix global sustainability issues.

The 10 challenges — from responsible sourcing to closed loops or green logistics — await applicants, who can submit their solutions to the program by mid-September. Successful applications will receive support from Anheuser-Busch in the form of funding, networking and mentorship.

The company said the new annual accelerator will include a pilot project by each startup and a “structured curriculum” to integrate solutions with a corporate partner and plan for scale.

Disaster on the Horizon: The Price Effect of Sea Level Rise

Bernstein, Asaf and Gustafson, Matthew and Lewis, Ryan, Disaster on the Horizon: The Price Effect of Sea Level Rise (May 4, 2018). Journal of Financial Economics (JFE), Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: or

Abstract:  Homes exposed to sea level rise (SLR) sell for approximately 7% less than observably equivalent unexposed properties equidistant from the beach. This discount has grown over time and is driven by sophisticated buyers and communities worried about global warming. Consistent with causal identification of long horizon SLR costs, we find no relation between SLR exposure and rental rates and a 4% discount among properties not projected to be flooded for almost a century. Our findings contribute to the literature on the pricing of long-run risky cash flows and provide insights for optimal climate change policy.

The Most Comprehensive Map Of Butterfly Evolution Ever

Read the full story at Fast Company.

You are looking at the most complete map of butterflies ever made, a graphic that traces the species’ evolutionary tree back 120 million years. In total, researchers classified 207 species, after analyzing 352 genetic markers. It’s a fascinating time travel that has led to a few surprising discoveries.

The infographic accompanies a study published in the journal Current Biology by an international team of lepidopterists, led by Florida Museum of Natural History’s researcher Dr. Akito Kawahara. It covers 35 times more genetic data and three times as many taxonomic groups as the largest previous study to create “the first comprehensive map of butterfly evolution,” Kawahara told Sci-News.

Science Under Trump: Voices of Scientists across 16 Federal Agencies

Download the document.

A year and a half into the Trump administration, its record on science policy is abysmal: undermining the role of science in decision-making, expanding the influence of regulated industries, excluding public voices, censoring scientists, overriding and dismissing science advice, and hindering the collection and dissemination of scientific information. UCS has documented this poor record in our 2017 report, Sidelining Science from Day Oneon our blog, and in our ongoing “Attacks on Science” web feature.

But what do scientists themselves think? What does the Trump administration’s assault on federal science look like to the people who experience it every day in their workplaces?

We decided to ask. In February and March 2018, in partnership with the Center for Survey Statisics and Methodology at Iowa State University, we surveyed more than 63,000 scientific experts employed by the federal government. Their responses are compiled in our report, Science Under Trump: Voices of Scientists across 16 Federal Agencies, and in several fact sheets focused on specific agencies.

UIUC Science Policy Group Town Hall / September 14

The UIUC Science Policy Group and Union of Concerned Scientists invites you to join us for a town hall to discuss renewable energy, clean jobs, and other environmental issues. This event will take place in the Beckman Institute’s auditorium (Room 1025) from 3:00-4:15pm on Friday, September 14. The town hall will feature four panelists who will share their experience with renewable policy and technology.

  1. State Sen. Scott Bennet (IL-52)
  2. Rev. Cindy Shepherd, Central Illinois Outreach Director for Faith in Place
  3. Scott Tess, Urbana Environmental Sustainability Manager
  4. Tim Montague, solar PV sales & business development, Continental Electric Construction

Robby Goldman (Dept. of Geology) will moderate the event, and audience members will have an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the panel.

Please RSVP at

For questions about this event, please email Robby (

UK government considers tax options to tackle plastic waste

Read the full story at FoodBev.

There is a high level of support among UK individuals and businesses to use the tax system to reduce waste from single-use plastics, according to the country’s government.

Cement faces special challenges in quest for sustainability

Read the full story in ConstructionDive.

The mammoth cement industry, according to AZO Materials, has its work cut out for it if cement is to become more sustainable, including reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the manufacturing process and overcoming the destructive effects of climate change.

AZO said the global production of cement is currently at 2.8 billion tons per year and is expected to increase significantly in coming years. The manufacturing of cement, according to the CICERO Center for International Climate Research, is the third largest source of carbon dioxide emissions behind fossil fuels and land-use change and has increased 30-fold since the 1950s and 40-fold since 1990, spurred by development in China. To counteract this, the cement industry has started to use alternative raw materials such as fly ash and finding ways for concrete to absorb carbon dioxide. According to U.S. Concrete, one ton of cement production releases one ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

More than a decade ago, manufacturers representing 30% of cement production formed the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to address issues that include sustainability, employee safety and climate change. According to AZO, climate change can destabilize structures that use cement and concrete by increased flooding that can cause wear and tear. Additionally, some builders are trying to mitigate the effect of other climate concerns on concrete, like the heat island effect, by placing solar panels atop concrete and by installing green roofs.