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Anderson Hall
Tufts University
Medford, MA 02155

Tel: 617.627.3211
Fax: 617.627.3994

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Kurt D. Pennell
Adjunct Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
250th Anniversary Professor, School of Engineering, Brown University


1990 Ph.D. University of Florida
1986 M.S. North Carolina State University
1984 B.S. University of Maine (with high distinction)

Research Interests

  • Fate and transport of engineered nanomaterials and non-aqueous phase liquids (NAPLs) in the subsurface
  • Development and testing of in situ remediation technologies including thermal treatment, surfactant flushing and bioremediation
  • Relationship between chronic exposure to persistent organic pollutants and human health; oxidative stress and neurodegenerative disease
  • Analysis of neuroactive steroids and their relationship to seizure frequency during pregnancy

Dr. Pennell is a member of the environmental health (EH) and Environmental and Water Resources Engineering (EWRE) research groups in CEE and is an investigator in the Integrated Multiphase Environmental Systems Laboratory (IMPES) at Tufts University and the Parkinson's Disease Collaborative Environmental Research Center (PD-CERC) at Emory University. The IMPES lab is a highly collaborative setting where laboratory experiments and mathematical models are combined to elucidate and explore processes which influence the persistence of contaminants and control the effectiveness of remediation in the subsurface environment. Research activities of the PD-CERC focus on determining environmental contaminants that alter storage of the neurotransmitter dopamine, determining how mitochondria respond to injury, and developing metabolic biomarkers of chemical exposures and PD.

Alternatives for Managing the Nation's Complex Contaminated Groundwater Sites Dr. Pennell was one of several authors serving on the Committee of Future Options for Management in the Nation's Subsurface Remediation Effort that recently published "Alternatives for Managing the Nation's Complex Contaminated Groundwater Sites" by the National Academies Press. The report estimates that at least 126,000 sites across the United States still have contaminated groundwater, and their closure is expected to cost at least $110 billion to $127 billion. About 10 percent of these sites are considered "complex," meaning restoration is unlikely to be achieved in the next 50 to 100 years due to technological limitations. At sites where contaminant concentrations have plateaued at levels above cleanup goals despite active efforts, the report recommends evaluating whether the sites should transition to long-term management, where risks would be monitored and harmful exposures prevented, but at reduced costs.

Professional Positions

2018-present: Professor, Environmental Engineering, Brown University
2017-present: Adjunct Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Tufts School of Engineering
2009-2017: Professor and Chair, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Tufts School of Engineering
1995-2009: Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology (formerly Associate and Assistant Professor)
2004-present: Adjunct Professor, Department of Neurology, Emory University School of Medicine
1993-1995: Assistant Research Scientist, Civil & Env. Eng., University of Michigan
1990-1993: Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Civil & Env. Eng., University of Michigan

Selected Honors and Awards

  • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Career award (K25) to investigate the "Quantitative Metabolomic Analysis of Chronic Exposures to Environmental Toxicants", 2006-2009
  • Strategic Environmental Research Development Program (SERDP), Project of the Year Award, as co-PI with Linda Abriola (PI) and Frank L�ffler (co-PI), 2006
  • Sigma Xi Best Ph.D. Thesis Award, Georgia Institute of Technology Chapter (as Advisor to Jed Costanza), 2006
  • Outstanding Service Award, Soil Physics Division, Soil Science Society of America, 2003
  • Outstanding Advisor Award, Chi Epsilon National Honor Society (Civil Engineering), 2002
  • Faculty Member of the Year Award, Order of Omega, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2000
  • Who's Who of America's Teachers (student nominated), 1996, 1998

Selected Service Activities

  • Member, National Academy of Engineering, Committee on Future Options for Management in the Nation's Subsurface Remediation Effort, 2009-
  • Member, Integrated DNAPLs Strategy Team, Interstate Technology Research Council (ITRC), 2008-2011
  • Independent Reviewer, United Nations Compensation Commission for Remediation of Oil Lakes in Kuwait, 2007-present
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 2006-present
  • Chair, Mission Committee, Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors, 2003-2004
  • Associate Editor, Vadose Zone Journal, 2002-2005
  • Web Page Administrator, Soil Physics Division, Soil Science Society of America, 1996-2003

Professional Registrations

  • Professional Engineer (PE), State of Georgia, No. PE030840
  • Board Certified Environmental Engineer (BCEE), American Academy of Environmental Engineers
  • Certified Professional Soil Scientist (CPSS-ARCPACS, No. 24756)