Dr. Joel Burken, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology, has been elected vice president of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors and is on track to lead the organization in 2011.
Burken was elected by the board to the one-year term in July and is in line to become president-elect in July 2010 and president in July 2011.
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.
Elected nationally to the 10-member AEESP board of directors in 2008, Burken recently completed his first year. In 2007, the organization presented Burken 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 also serves as interim director of the Environmental Research Center and pursues research on how trees and other plants can be used to reduce water and soil pollution — and reduce overall cleanup costs. Known as phytoremediation, the method involves using plants to clean up pollutants. This work has also led to methods to detect pollutants in the environment by non-invasive testing plant tissues, these patent-pending 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 five 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.