Warning: This page gives you the CREEPS

(Cunningham Researchers for Environmental Engineering, Processes, and Science)




Jeff Cunningham joined the University of South Florida in 2005.  He oversees a group of research students with diverse research interests under the broad umbrella of Environmental Engineering.

Jeff’s own research passion is the development and application of mathematical and computational models to describe the behavior of environmental systems.  This includes the modeling of contaminant fate and transport processes, groundwater flow, water and wastewater treatment plants and treatment processes, and pore-scale multi-phase flow through porous media, to name a few.  Mathematical modeling is useful not only as a prediction tool, but also to test if our theoretical understanding and conceptualizations of the relevant processes are supported by collected data.

Jeff has authored or co-authored over 50 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

When Jeff is not at work, he enjoys sheltering in place, washing his hands, and social distancing.  But some day he hopes to return to spending time outdoors with his family and watching live sporting events.




Current Research Students


Chrisopher Nenninger is a PhD student in the Environmental Engineering program.  He is co-advised by Prof James Mihelcic.

Christopher’s research aims to improve the siting of latrines in low- and middle-income countries where latrines are used as a technology for sanitation.  Christopher will quantify what constitutes a “safe” distance between a latrine and a downgradient drinking-water source such as a shallow groundwater well.




Ian Grabo is pursuing the degree of Master of Science in Environmental Engineering.  Ian is investigating the formation of trihalomethanes (THMs) during chlorination of municipal wastewater at centralized treatment facilities.  He aims to develop feasible methods of reducing THM formation and/or removing THMs after they are formed but before treated wastewater is discharged to the environment.





Recent Graduates and Alumni



Helene Kassouf completed her PhD in Environmental Engineering in December 2021. 

The overall objective of Helene’s dissertation research is to find sustainable and efficient processes to treat municipal wastewater while maximizing the recovery of resources (clean water, energy, and nutrients).  Specific objectives of Helene’s research include:

·   Evaluating the performance of currently employed wastewater treatment processes by quantifying the fluxes of nitrogen and phosphorus through mainstream treatment and sludge-handling operations at a local water reclamation facility

·   Building and assessing a microbial fuel cell, an innovative technology that can generate electricity while simultaneously removing carbon and nitrogen from wastewater streams

·   Evaluating phosphorus removal from wastewater using a newly proposed method of “sidestream enhanced biological phosphorus removal” (S2EBPR)



Hania Hawasli completed her Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering in December 2021.

Hania investigated the cause(s) of arsenic mobilization in groundwater during aquifer and storage recovery (ASR) processes in Florida.  In particular, she is interested in the effects of nitrate on arsenopyrite dissolution and arsenic mobilization when partially treated wastewater is used as a source water for ASR.





Dr Fizza Zahid completed her PhD in Environmental Engineering in May 2021. 

Fizza’s PhD research focused on the pore-scale modeling of multi-phase fluid flow (e.g., oil and water) in porous media.  Specifically, Fizza investigated the impact of grain morphology on the development of fluid-fluid interfaces.  Fizza employed lattice Boltzmann modeling (color gradient method) to accomplish the multi-phase flow modeling.  The goal of the work was to understand the physics of pore-scale multi-phase flow in porous media, with a view towards improving engineering solutions involving multi-phase fluids (e.g., soil remediation, carbon dioxide sequestration).




Murat Kayabas completed his MS in Civil Engineering in May, 2021.

Murat built and characterized a laboratory-scale confined aquifer system that was able to simulate injection and withdrawal conditions of aquifer storage and recovery (ASR).




Dr Ram Kumar completed his PhD in Chemical Engineering in December, 2019.

Ram’s research interests and expertise include computational fluid dynamics, hydrogeology & geochemistry, groundwater modeling, geological carbon storage, and modeling of indoor air quality.

As of July 2021, Ram is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Energy Geosciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.




Dr Kevin Orner completed his PhD in Environmental Engineering in May, 2019.  At USF, Kevin focused on the management of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) from wastewater streams at different scales (e.g., individual buildings, city sewersheds) and in different contexts (e.g., urban and agricultural).

In fall of 2021, Kevin will begin a faculty position as an Assistant Professor in the Wadsworth Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at West Virginia University.  The overall goal of his research group is to improve human and environmental health locally and globally through the safe and sustainable recovery of resources (nutrients, energy, and water) from concentrated waste streams.




Aldo Lobos completed his MS degree under the joint supervision of Jeff Cunningham and Prof Jody Harwood from the Department of Integrative Biology.  Following the completion of his MS degree, Aldo began his PhD program in Integrative Biology under Prof Harwood’s direction.  Aldo is now exploring the reduction of microbial source-tracking markers through advanced wastewater treatment techniques and the influence of stormwater runoff and aging infrastructure on concentrations of genes associated with pathogens and antibiotic resistance in impaired surface waters.