Dr. Joel Burken, associate professor of civil, architectural and
environmental engineering at the University of Missouri-Rolla, has been
selected to receive the Association of Environmental Engineering Professors
(AEESP) Award for Outstanding Teaching of Environmental Engineering and
Science. Burken’s former students nominated him for the award.
“I am very honored, especially considering this is from peers I hold in very
high regards,” Burken says. “The students’ efforts and kind words really mean
the most to me.”
The Outstanding Teaching of Environmental Engineering and Science award was
created to honor individuals who are making outstanding contributions to the
teaching of environmental engineering, both at the individual’s home
institution and beyond.
“Joel’s involvement with the environmental engineering undergraduate
program, along with his research efforts, are examples of why he has been
repeatedly recognized as one of UMR’s most effective faculty members in the
civil, architectural and environmental engineering department,” says Jerry
Bayless, interim chair of the civil, architectural and environmental
engineering department at UMR. “Joel teaches a variety of courses in the
department and works very well with his students.”
In addition to serving coordinator of the environmental engineering
undergraduate program at UMR, Burken pursues research on how trees and other
plants can be used to reduce water and ground pollution — and reduce overall
cleanup costs. Known as “phytoremediation,” the method involves using plants to
clean up pollutants.
“This is a very special recognition for an outstanding educator,” says Dr.
Kent Wray, UMR provost. “Dr. Burken is able to develop a special relationship
with his students and because of that, he is able to show his environmental
engineering students first hand how academic research can be uniquely applied
Burken has been honored numerous other times for his teaching and academic
pursuits. In 1998, Burken was honored with a Rudolph Hering Medal by the
American Society of Civil Engineers. In 2000, Burken received a faculty early
career development award from the National Science Foundation. He also has been
presented with UMR’s Faculty Excellence Award in 1999 and 2000.
Burken earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in civil and
environmental engineering from the University of Iowa in 1991, 1993 and 1996,