Pedro Alvarez elected to National Academy of Engineering


Engineering Professor Pedro Alvarez has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), one of the highest honors that can be conferred upon a U.S. scientist or engineer.

Pedro Alvarez

Pedro Alvarez

The NAE cited Alvarez for his “contributions to the practice and pedagogy of bioremediation and environmental nanotechnology.” He is among the 83 new members announced Jan. 7, which brings the total U.S. membership to 2,293 and the number of foreign members to 262. He brings to eight the number of current faculty members at Rice elected to the NAE.

Alvarez is the George R. Brown Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and director of the National Science Foundation’s Energy Research Center for Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment at Rice. He joined the Rice faculty in 2004.

A native of Nicaragua, Alvarez received his Ph.D. in environmental engineering in 1992 from the University of Michigan. From 1993 to 2003 he was at the University of Iowa, where he served as associate director of the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing. At Rice he served as department chair from 2005 to 2015.

As a doctoral student, Alvarez started his research into bioremediation, a process that uses bacteria and other microorganisms to remove contaminants from water. He has authored two textbooks on bioremediation in soil and water, including the only such book in Spanish. BP has used his research to develop hydrogeology models for evaluating the potential impact of biofuels on groundwater.

Since joining Rice, Alvarez has pioneered research on environmental nanotechnology, including the risks posed to microbial ecosystem services by released nanomaterials and nano-enabled disinfection and microbial control.

Alvarez is a fellow and former president of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors and an associate editor of the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science and Technology. According to Google Scholar, Alvarez’s publications have been cited more than 25,400 times. His h-index, a metric that measures a scientist’s productivity and citation impact, is 72, which means he has published 72 papers that have been cited at least 72 times by other research papers.

He serves as honorary professor at Nankai University in Tianjin and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, and as adjunct professor at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in Florianopolis, Brazil. He serves on the advisory board for the engineering directorate of the National Science Foundation.

In 2012, Alvarez was awarded the Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke Prize for “excellence in water research” by the National Water Research Institute. He is a fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Sciences, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the International Water Association and the Water Environment Federation.

Established in 1964, the NAE advises the federal government on matters related to technology and engineering. NAE membership honors those who have made important contributions to engineering theory and practice, including the literature of engineering theory and practice.

The newly elected members will be formally inducted Sept. 30 at the NAE’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

–Patrick Kurp is a science writer in the George R. Brown School of Engineering.



About Special to Rice News

The Rice News is produced weekly by the Office of Public Affairs at Rice University.