Dr. Joel Burken, interim director of the Environmental Research Center at Missouri University of Science and Technology, has been selected to help lead the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP) as one of its 10 board of directors. AEESP is made up of more than 850 professors and practitioners in academic programs throughout the world who provide education in the sciences and technologies of environmental protection.
Last fall, the AEESP presented Burken, associate professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering, with its Outstanding Teaching of Environmental Engineering and Science award. The award honors individuals who are making outstanding contributions to the teaching of environmental engineering, both at the individual’s home institution and beyond.
At Missouri S&T, 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 work has also lead to methods to detect pollutants in the environment by testing plant tissues, methods developed at S&T called “phytoforensics.”
Burken has been honored numerous other times for his teaching and academic pursuits. He received the Rudolph Hering Medal by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1998 and 2007. In 2000, Burken received a faculty early career development award from the National Science Foundation. He also has been presented with S&T’s Faculty Excellence Award four times.
Burken earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Iowa in 1991, 1993 and 1996, respectively.