Skip to main content

Grand Challenges: Remediation of Methane, Water, and Heat Waste

Grant Type: Team Project Grant
Topics: Climate Change and the Environment
Colleges Represented: CMNS, AGNR, BSOS

Grand Challenges Grants Program


The human impact on the environment and climate are critical concerns locally, nationally, and globally. The University of Maryland campus is a microcosm of many of these urban and suburban environmental impacts. Stream and air contamination arises from methane emissions, CO2 emissions, pipeline water loss, and storm drains that receive heat, chemical and sewer waste. All of these are consequences of human activities and can be mitigated following adequate monitoring. This student-centric project is focused on environmental and climate impact with a local campus phase, a State of Maryland phase, and a plan to leverage results into a national-scale, externally funded initiative. The team is using geophysical instruments to identify, map, and measure air and water contaminant sources on campus, in particular methane emissions and steam/heat/water waste (in collaboration with UMD Facilities Management). The team will also conduct methane emission mapping excursions within the state of Maryland using aircraft outfitted with UMD methane sensors flown by pilots from the Maryland Civil Air Patrol (Auxiliary to the US Air Force). In coordination with campus and state authorities, the team will analyze the results to produce recommendations for the joint remediation of coupled environmental quality challenges and develop the basis for a national strategy.

Leadership Team:

PI: Daniel Lathrop (CMNS), Professor, Physics

Russell Dickerson (CMNS), Professor, Atmospheric and Oceanic Science

James Farquhar (CMNS), Distinguished University Professor and Chair, Department of Geology

Sujay Kaushal (CMNS), Professor, Department of Geology

Danielle Niu, Assistant Clinical Professor, First-Year Innovation & Research Experience (FIRE) Program

Yiqun Xie (BSOS), Assistant Professor, Geospatial Information Sciences

Stephanie Yarwood (AGNR), Associate Professor, Environmental Science and Technology

Karen Prestegaard (CMNS), Associate Professor, Geology

Additional Faculty Participants:

Michael Evans (GEOL, ESSIC) - Geochemistry, experimental design, data analysis, education
Vedran Lekic (GEOL) - Geophysical data analysis, education
Karen Prestegaard (GEOL) - Hydrology and Water quality, education

Team Staff Personnel:

Jason Chewning (FM) - FM lead on steam issues
Ruth Heffes (CMNS) - Chemical Engineering support
Piotr Kulczakowicz (VPR) - Civil Air Patrol officer
Bryan Quinn (IREAP/ECE) - Engineering support and student organization

Back to Top