Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering - Dr. John C. Little


Our research goals emphasize the application of engineering principles to environmental problems with a focus on process dynamics and mass-transfer in a wide range of environmental systems.


Current areas of emphasis include:

  • Indoor Air Quality
      Indoor air poses one of the most significant environmental health risks. Building materials and consumer products are among the primary sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) contributing to poor indoor air quality. We are developing and validating fundamental models to predict the source behavior of these materials. After successfully validating a single-layer model to predict emission of VOCs from vinyl flooring, we are now studying emissions of SVOCs (phthalate plasticizers and flame retardants) from polymers as well as barrier layers to reduce emissions.
  • Surface Waters and Reservoirs
      Hypolimnetic water in stratified lakes and reservoirs may become depleted of oxygen, with negative consequences for water quality. One remedial strategy is to replenish the oxygen using hypolimnetic oxygenators. We are developing and validating models for the three most common systems: the bubble-plume diffuser, the air-lift aerator, and the Speece Cone. The models predict performance based on the applied air or oxygen flow rate and the initial bubble-size created by the diffuser. Because these systems induce mixing, and potentially enhance sediment oxygen demand, the process models are being coupled with a reservoir model to enable more effective design and economic optimization.
  • Sustainability and Systems