Tufts engineers recognized for research excellence

Professor Emeritus Steven Chapra and alum Dr. Kyle Flynn, EG14, received the 2021 Samuel Arnold Greeley Award from the ASCE’s Environmental and Water Resources Institute.
Steve Chapra and Kyle Flynn
Kyle Flynn, left, and Professor Emeritus Steve Chapra, right, at Flynn's doctoral hooding in 2014.

Each year, the American Society for Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Environmental and Water Resources Institute (EWRI) selects one paper that has made the most valuable contribution to the environmental engineering profession. The authors received the 2021 Samuel Arnold Greeley Award, endowed in honor of a former director of the EWRI.

This year, the EWRI honored a 2020 paper by alum Kyle Flynn, who earned a PhD in civil and environmental engineering in 2014, and Professor Emeritus Steven Chapra of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Their paper, “Evaluating Hydraulic Habitat Suitability of Filamentous Algae Using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler,” was published in the March 2020 issue of the Journal of Environmental Engineering.

In research described in the paper, Flynn and Chapra used an unmanned aerial vehicle and acoustic Doppler current profiler to investigate the hydraulic habitat preference of Cladophora glomerata, a green alga that can form filamentous mats and nuisance algal conditions. Severe blooms prevent necessary water circulation, block light from photosynthesizing organisms growing beneath the water, and can interfere with both recreational and commercial fisheries.

This is the second outstanding paper award that Chapra and Flynn have received together from the EWRI. In 2015, the pair was honored with the Wesley W. Horner Award for their paper on how environmental scientists and engineers can predict benthic algae (periphyton) growth in streams and rivers using parsimonious modeling approaches. Both papers arose from Flynn’s doctoral dissertation at Tufts.

“[Lead author] Kyle [Flynn] is a remarkable guy and the best PhD I have supervised in my 40+ years in academia,” says Chapra. “Aside from his two award-winning papers, his dissertation generated five other papers in refereed journals for a total of seven papers from his PhD” – a significant achievement. In addition to Flynn’s work with advisor Chapra, Flynn collaborated with Associate Professors Andrew Ramsburg and Wayne Chudyk, who were on his PhD committee, during his time at Tufts. Flynn is now a senior engineer/scientist at the engineering firm CDM Smith and principal and owner of his own business, KF2 Consulting.

An environmental engineer with expertise in water quality modeling and numerical methods, Chapra taught at Tufts University for over 20 years. He is a Fellow of the ASCE and the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP). In addition to receiving the Wesley W. Horner Award in 2015 with Flynn, Chapra also received the same award for a different paper in 2016, distinguishing him as one of only two researchers to ever win the award in two consecutive years.