Ramesh Goel is an Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Utah, as well as Co-Chair of USPCASW’s Environmental Engineering Working Group. He spoke with us about his background and thoughts about the project.
Q: What other projects are you currently involved with?
I’m working on several projects. My main focus is integrating environmental process engineering with environmental microbiology to address environmental sustainability and environmental health. My primary research area is treating waste water for different purposes. So waste water is no longer regarded as waste water, the definition is changing. It is regarded as a resource now. So, my research is also focusing on how we can use a waste water treatment plant as an energy positive, actually. And how can we recover important resources – nutrients, even matter from waste water rather than dumping them in surface water as they are useful resources. How can we efficiently remove or treat waste water with a low energy footprint. Other research is relate to natural ecosystem. I evaluate nutrient dynamics in natural ecosystems like wetlands and streams, especially water column and sediments. Third thing is antibiotic resistant bacteria. So I studied their genomics and I’m studying their diversity in drinking water plants and waste water. And I am using a cool technique bacteriophages, viruses that effect bacteria only. I am looking at the possibility of using bacteriophages to cure infections by antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Q: What other international work are you currently doing?
I am collaborating with researchers from the Netherlands and Switzerland and I’ve been talking with folks from India also. In fact next week I’ll be going to Netherlands for our collaboration.
Q: What excites you about USPCASW?
It has a strong environmental engineering component and water sustainability componenet, so I hail from that region. I am from India. I know the problems there. So it’s exciting for me because it’s kind of addressing problems from back home. And that’s exactly my expertise. I just love waste water. The need there, waste water treatment and how can we treat drinking water, how can we come up with low cost treatment, and how can we integrate those concepts into teaching also. They all fall into my excitement of research.
Q: What challenges do you see with this project?
So far no challenges, but the thing is priorities are different. If you think about the United States, water problems they exist there, we have already taken care of those in the 70s, so there is a wide technology awareness gap. Mind is there, intelligence is there, people are great there, but lack of infrastructure, lack of funding, sometimes that inhibits or prohibits implementing nice ideas. And the state of mind of people, also. So those are the biggest challenges.
Q: What’s your favorite water place?
Wisconsin Dells. I love the slides. Clean water. It’s not just water, it’s so green there. True green. Plants and all that, especially in summer. It’s amazing.
Q: Anything else?
I’m looking forward to it. We already started working. Steve is taking lead and doing an excellent job. I’m just a part of it, but I think the lions share is done by Steve. We all are a team and working as a team. It’s amazing. Looking forward to setting up a good example and representing the U internationally.