Meet Our Graduate Students

Nahum Yelizarov

Nahum Yelizarov

NAHUM YELIZAROV completed a Bachelor’s degree in 2021 and will graduate with a Master’s degree in the spring of 2023. After graduation, Yelizarov will join the structural engineering general group at Ericksen Roed & Associates (ERA) where he anticipates working on existing and new structures including medical facilities, residential buildings, and schools.

Read more about Nahum's path through a combined BS/MS

headshot Zihang Wang

Zihang Wang

When the COVID-19 pandemic arose, the use of antibiotics soared. Levels of use evened out as we learned more about how the virus is transmitted. People concerned about water, however, are still concerned about the large amounts of antibiotics introduced into the environment and how they might move into and through our water systems. Zihang Wang, a graduate student advised by Bill Arnold, is taking aim at this problem.

Read more about Zihang Wang's research

Shian Wang on the ski slopes

Shi'an Wang

Shi'an Wang, a Ph.D. student advised by Michael Levin, completed doctoral requirements on Wednesday, November 16, 2022. Wang's thesis addressed "Planning, Operation, and Management of Automated Transportation Systems: A Control-Theoretic Approach. "In the spring, Wang will join the faculty at the University of Texas at El Paso at the rank of Assistant Professor. Read more about Shi'an Wang.


Phoebe Edalatpour

Phoebe Edalatpour

Phoebe Edalatpour, a student in the Master’s Sustainable Development Program, has won the 2022 Acara Challenge for her project to transform waste and catalyze gender equity in Sierra Leone. She developed a plan to bring a plastics recycling plant to remote villages of Sierra Leone, where she once worked as a Peace Corps volunteer.

Read more about Edalatpour's work

Caleb Widstrand

Caleb Widstrand

​​​​​​​Caleb Widstrand won Best Master's Thesis. He completed and defended his Master’s of Science thesis, “Wave Propagation in Periodic, Configurable Kerfed Metamaterials,” in 2021 under the direction of his adviser Professor Stefano Gonella. And now, Widstrand’s thesis has been chosen as the best Master’s Thesis within the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering (CEGE).

Mariah Dornher

Mariah Dorner holding her ARCS certificate

Mariah Dorner, a third year PhD Student advised by Sebastian Behrens, received the Minnesota ARCS Scholar Award for the academic years of 2021-2023. Presentations were made at the Scholar Award Reception held virtually October 28, 2021.


Quinn Whiting

Quinn Whiting (MS 2020)

Quinn Whiting (MS Civil Engineering, 2020) was awarded one of only two 2021 Master’s Thesis Awards from the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP). Whiting’s thesis, “Fluorinated Photoproduct Formation from Photolysis of Fluorinated Pharmaceuticals and Phenols,” contributes a new method of tracking fluorine during reactions of pollutants.

Read more about Quinn Whiting and his award

Four Hsiao Shaw Lundquist Fellows from CEGE

Four Hsiao Shaw-Lundquist Fellowship Recipients

Four CEGE graduate students will be supported in 2021 by the Hsiao Shaw-Lundquist Fellowship. Recipients include Svetlana Baranova, a mathematics and geomechanical engineering student advised by Sofia Mogilevskaya; Xiating Chen, a water resources engineering student advised by Xue Feng; and Tianyi Li (advised by Raphael Stern) and Te Xu (advised by Michael Levin), who both study transportation engineering.

Read more about these four Hsiao Shaw-Lundquist Fellowship recipients

Olutooni Ajayi

Olutooni Ajayi

Olutooni Ajayi, a graduate student in the first year of her doctoral studies in CEGE, has been awarded a PEO International Peace Scholarship.

Read more about Olutooni Ajayi


Daniel (Dan) Kennedy

Dan Kennedy

“Working closely with Professors Guzina and Labuz has been great. I am not micromanaged and am given plenty of intellectual freedom to explore different research ideas (some successful, some not). Professor Guzina has a great technical background and helps keep my research on track. Professor Labuz has found great ways for me to get involved with the department. For example, I helped organize the 2020 annual UMN Geotechnical Engineering Conference and am also helping organize the upcoming 2021 Conference. My participation has given me the chance to get to know a number of engineers and professors in the field. Professor Labuz also got me involved with the UMN Discover STEM camps where we demonstrated concepts related to soil mechanics (shear strength, angle of repose, and liquefaction) to visiting high school students.”

Read more about Kennedy and his research

Svetlana Baranova

Graduate Student Svetlana Baranova

Svetlana Baranova grew up in a small city in Siberia and went to the Novosibirsk State University, one of the best physics programs in Russia. After completing her Master’s degree in physics, Baranova worked with Schlumberger, the largest gas and oil service company in the world as a field engineer in Siberia, above the polar circle. After two years, she came to UMN to do more research. “My heart is drawn to this technical part of research! My interest is not in a specific area of application, but in the process of solving mathematical problems.”

Read more about Svetlana Baranova and 
...her passion for mathematical modeling

...her research connection in China

Emma O'Leary

Emma O'Leary

Emma O'Leary (BCE 2018, MS 2020) father was an environmental engineer, so she was always aware that environmental engineering was a career possibility. She also saw that “the need is everywhere. Clean water is a need everywhere—places like Haiti, but also the Appalachians, and Flint, Michigan. I have family near Flint. Clean water supply is becoming less available as the population grows.”

Read more about Emma O'Leary's experience

Rachel Tenney

Rachel Tenney is beginning her research in environmental engineering

Rachel Tenney, a Ph.D. student co-advised by Professors Tim LaPara and Paige Novak, was selected to receive a Minnesota Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Scholar Award for the academic years of 2019-2021. Tenney researches how nitrogen is removed in wastewater treatment ponds.

Tenney will perform laboratory and field research to understand how nitrogen is removed in wastewater treatment ponds during winter and spring months when the temperature drops and ice cover can cause decreased oxygen levels. Tenney will also study how interventions, such as simple paddle mixing and aeration, can improve nitrogen removal in reactors designed to model pond systems. Her research will help the State of Minnesota understand how to improve nitrogen removal in wastewater treatment ponds when needed, protecting the quality and safety of surface water and groundwater.

Read more about Rachel Tenney's award

Anndee Huff

Anndee Huff

Anndee Huff knew she wanted to get involved with the environment from very early on. She grew up in the Twin Cities and attended the School of Environmental Studies, affectionately known as “the Zoo School” because it is located on the grounds of the Minnesota Zoo. The alternative high school emphasizes awareness of the environment. She is now completing her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota.

“After college, I worked as an engineering consultant for Black & Veatch. I got to explore water problems up and down the west coast, and really learned what water/wastewater engineers do. That is what brought me back to graduate school in August 2016. I was drawn to the University of Minnesota because Paige Novak offered me the opportunity to work on an interesting, relevant, and very applicable project, looking at removal of nitrogen from wastewater."

Read more about Anndee Huff's research