Department Welcomes Dr. George Wells

Dr. George Wells

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering welcomes Dr. George Wells as Louis Berger Junior Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering.  Wells received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering and B.A. in Environmental Engineering from Rice University in 2004, where he first became interested in environmental engineering research while developing reactive nanostructured ceramic membranes for water treatment applications.  After a short period working on relevant environmental issues in the chemical industry at BP Chemicals in Naperville, Illinois.  Wells joined the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, where he completed his M.S. (2006) and Ph.D. (2011).

Wells’ doctoral research was focused on elucidating the diversity and relative importance of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria and newly discovered ammonia-oxidizing archaea in nitrifying wastewater treatment plants, and on employing nitrifier microbial ecology to recover energy from nutrient removal processes.  After receiving his Ph.D., Wells spent nearly 2.5 years as a postdoctoral scholar at Eawag-the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (near Zürich, Switzerland) studying the microbial ecology and process stability of a new class of low energy, sustainable biological nutrient removal processes that rely on so-called anammox bacteria.  

Wells’ primary research interests are microbial nitrogen cycling and short-circuit biological nutrient removal processes, microbial ecology of engineered and natural settings, sustainable biological wastewater treatment, microbial greenhouse gas production, and resource and energy recovery from waste.   His research has been published in numerous international journals, including Water ResearchEnvironmental MicrobiologyFrontiers in MicrobiologyProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, and Applied and Environmental Microbiology

As he embarks on this new phase of his academic career, he is excited to explore collaborative possibilities on related research topics within the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, across the university, and particularly with local industrial or public utility partners.  

When Wells is not searching for sustainable solutions to pressing environmental and public health problems, he enjoys a myriad of outdoor activities (particularly hiking, backpacking, biking, and canoeing), playing bluegrass and old-time guitar, and exploring the Chicago music scene with his wife and six month old son.