Role of channel migration in river network evolution, CAREER award, rankings, new model for pandemic spread, and more
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Latest News and Updates  |  May 2021

Photo of Gary Parker

Channel migration plays leading role

in river network evolution

Satellite views of Earth’s major river systems reveal their familiar treelike drainage patterns. The pattern – called dendritic – and its prevalence suggests that it may be the optimal state in which rivers exist. Challenged by the knowledge that numerical models of drainage evolution have yet to substantiate this assumption, researchers are now thinking of rivers as existing in a persistent reorganizational state instead of being in a set, stable configuration. Understanding this has implications for land use and infrastructure management decisions. A new study by researchers, including CEE at Illinois professor Gary Parker, takes a closer look at the vertical and lateral – or depth and width – components of river erosion and drainage patterns. The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

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photo of Alireza Talebpour 

Talebpour receives NSF CAREER Award

CEE Assistant Professor Alireza Talebpour has received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award to develop a novel congestion management strategy based on vehicle automation and communications technology.

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photo of environmental engineering lab 

Environmental engineering grad program moves up in rankings

The CEE at Illinois Environmental Engineering graduate program moves up in the U.S. News and World Report rankings, and now ties for third place. The Civil Engineering graduate program is again tied for second best in the nation.

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graphic of covid spread 

COVID-19 peaks reflect time-dependent social activity, not herd immunity

Scientists at Brookhaven National Lab and U of I have developed a new model for predicting how epidemics such as COVID-19 spread. The results appeared online in advance of publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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photo of a neighborhood 

People of color hardest hit by air pollution from nearly all sources

A new study led by assistant professor Chris Tessum that models peoples’ exposure to air pollution shows that exposure disparities among people of color and white people are driven by nearly all, rather than only a few, emission source types.

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Photo of ocean wave 

Previously unrecognized tsunami hazard identified in coastal cities

A new study found overlooked tsunami hazards related to undersea, near-shore strike-slip faults, especially for coastal cities adjacent to faults that traverse inland bays. The results are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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photo of Jeremy Guest 

DOE grant funds wastewater treatment innovation

A research team will work to accelerate the commercialization of a distributed water treatment technology that provides energy-positive treatment of high-strength food and beverage industry wastewater, thanks to a Department of Energy grant. Associate professor Jeremy Guest is conducting the U of I portion of the research.

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data science tracks infographic


  • Topology optimization: A unique collaboration by assistant professor Shelly Zhang and industry partner Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, a structural engineering and architectural design firm, led to the structural design of an auditorium ceiling using topology optimization to inform the beam design. READ MORE
  • Urban transportation: Encouraging and improving carpooling in cities is the focus of a new collaborative project by researchers from CEE at Illinois and Penn State. Assistant professor Lewis Lehe leads the Illinois team. READ MORE
  • CIVIC Innovation Challenge: A team led by assistant professor Hadi Meidani has been selected to participate in the CIVIC Innovation Challenge, a two-stage competition held by the National Science Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Energy and Homeland Security.  READ MORE
  • iSEE Fellows: The Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) has named the 2021-22 Levenick iSEE Teaching Sustainability Fellows, including CEE assistant professors Ramez Hajj, Roman Makhnenko and Ann Sychterz. READ MORE
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Alumnus and CEE Adjunct Lecturer Charles "Charlie" Greer received the 2021 Lifetime Achievement in Engineering Award from the Georgia Society of Professional Engineers. READ MORE


Illinois Center for Transportation (ICT):

  • Cracking the code for longer-lasting roadways: researchers investigate premature cracking on concrete roads. READ MORE
  • Pothole patching creating better roadways: researchers investigate optimized pothole patching materials, equipment and techniques. READ MORE
  • On the April episode of The Drive Forward podcast, Michel Hovan, branch manager of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Technology Research and Development, explores futuristic air travel such as urban air mobility, where people travel through the airspace for short trips. LISTEN

Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC):

  • Recent article on Illinois Rail History: A recent piece by The Illinois Distributed Museum highlights three scholars from early university history, including Arthur Talbot - an early CEE at Illinois alumnus and professor who taught a variety of subjects including railroad engineering. READ MORE
  • RailTEC Principal Research Engineer, Marcus S. Dersch, P.E., was highlighted in the “Getting to know” section of the April 2021 issue of Railway Track & Structures (RT&S) magazine. READ MORE


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