Faculty Directory
Aaron I. Packman

Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and (by courtesy) Mechanical Engineering and Chemical and Biological Engineering


2145 Sheridan Road
Tech A314
Evanston, IL 60208-3109

847-491-9902Email Aaron Packman


Packman Research


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Mechanical Engineering

Chemical and Biological Engineering

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Ph.D. Environmental Engineering and Science, with minor in Geology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA

M.S. Environmental Engineering and Science, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA

B.S. Mechanical Engineering, with minor in History, cum laude, Washington University, St. Louis, MO

Research Interests

My research focuses on water, sediments, and microbiota, with particular emphasis on the basic processes that control interfacial dynamics in aquatic systems and the coupling of physical transport processes with biological and biogeochemical processes. I seek to define critical structure-transport-transformation relationships in dynamic environments such as rivers and surface-attached microbial communities (biofilms). My work is highly collaborative and encompasses fluid mechanics, particle transport and morphodynamics, aquatic chemistry, and microbiology. Important applications include benthic microbial ecology, nutrient and carbon cycling, contaminant transport and water quality, ecosystem degradation and restoration, waterborne disease transmission, and control of biofilms in human infection and engineered water systems.

Significant Recognition

  • Fulbright Distinguished Chair Award (2013)
  • Cole-Higgins Award for Excellence in Advising, Northwestern University (2012)
  • Huber Research Prize, American Society of Civil Engineers (2008)
  • Career Award, National Institutes of Health (NIAID K25) (2006)
  • McCormick Faculty Excellence Award, Northwestern University (2006)
  • Searle Junior Teaching Fellow, Northwestern University (2001-2002)
  • Career Award, National Science Foundation (1999)
  • Department of Defense Graduate Fellowship (1991-1994)
  • Myers Fellowship (full scholarship), Washington University (1987-1991)

Significant Professional Service

  • Limnology and Oceanography – Fluids and Environments, Associate Editor, 2010–Present
  • Water Resources Research, Associate Editor, 1999–2009)
  • International Journal of Sediment Research, Editorial Board (2003–Present)
  • Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Board of Directors, 2009–Present
  • International Association for Sediment Water Science, Board of Directors, 2005–Present, Vice President (2011 – present)
  • ASCE, Task Committee on Pathogens in Wet Weather Flows, 2008–Present
  • NSF Hydrologic Synthesis Summer Institute, Director, June-August 2010

Selected Publications

  • Li, Xiaobao; Lu, Nanxi; Brady, Hannah R.; Packman, Aaron I., Biomineralization strongly modulates the formation of Proteus mirabilis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa dual-species biofilms, FEMS microbiology ecology 92(12).
  • Teitelbaum, Yoni; Dallmann, Jonathan; Phillips, Colin B.; Packman, Aaron I.; Schumer, Rina; Sund, Nicole L.; Hansen, Scott K.; Arnon, Shai, Dynamics of Hyporheic Exchange Flux and Fine Particle Deposition Under Moving Bedforms, Water Resources Research 57(4).
  • Li, Angang; Drummond, Jennifer D.; Bowen, Jennifer C.; Cory, Rose M.; Kaplan, Louis A.; Packman, Aaron I., Effect of Decreasing Biological Lability on Dissolved Organic Matter Dynamics in Streams, Water Resources Research 57(2).
  • Li, Angang; Bernal, Susana; Kohler, Brady; Thomas, Steven A.; Martí, Eugènia; Packman, Aaron I., Residence Time in Hyporheic Bioactive Layers Explains Nitrate Uptake in Streams, Water Resources Research 57(2).
  • Krause, Stefan; Baranov, Viktor; Nel, Holly A.; Drummond, Jennifer D.; Kukkola, Anna; Hoellein, Timothy; Sambrook Smith, Gregory H.; Lewandowski, Joerg; Bonnet, Berta; Packman, Aaron I.; Sadler, Jon; Inshyna, Valentyna; Allen, Steve; Allen, Deonie; Simon, Laurent; Mermillod-Blondin, Florian; Lynch, Iseult, Gathering at the top? Environmental controls of microplastic uptake and biomagnification in freshwater food webs, Environmental Pollution 268.
  • Drummond, Jennifer D.; Davies-Colley, Robert J.; Stott, Rebecca; Sukias, James P.; Nagels, John W.; Sharp, Alice; Packman, Aaron I., Erratum, Environmental Science and Technology 54(16):10382.
  • Drummond, Jennifer; Wright-Stow, Aslan; Franklin, Paul; Quinn, John; Packman, Aaron, Fine particle transport dynamics in response to wood additions in a small agricultural stream, Hydrological Processes 34(21):4128-4138.
  • Drummond, Jennifer; Wright-Stow, Aslan; Franklin, Paul; Quinn, John; Packman, Aaron, Fine particle transport dynamics in response to wood additions in a small agricultural stream, Hydrological Processes 34(21):4128-4138.


  • Patent application, "UV Disinfectant Device for Biofilm Flow Cell,” Packman, A.I., Zhang, W., and Sileika, T., submitted September 27, 2010

In the Classroom

My core teaching philosophy encompasses two main elements: 

Technical skills should always be developed in the context of important problems and systems. This not only provides a framework for integrating skills and experiences, thereby improving learning and retention of the primary material, but also provides a strong motivation for learning, contributes to development of problem-solving capability beyond the primary material, and fosters a broad technical background and familiarity with current societal issues. 

Every aspect of every course should be a learning opportunity. Transmitting factual information and analytical methodology is straightforward, but broader skills are often de-emphasized in conventional courses. I use assignments such as laboratory exercises, student-led discussions, group projects, and case studies to supplement conventional assessment tools such as examinations and homework assignments.

  • CIV ENG 260 Fundamentals of Environmental Engineering
  • CIV ENG 440 Environmental Transport Processes
  • CIV ENG 448 Biophysicochemical Processes in Environmental Systems
  • CIV ENG 516 Seminar in Environmental Engineering