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Susan E. Powers

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Susan E. Powers

Professor (Joined Clarkson in 1992)
Associate Director for Sustainability, Institute for a Sustainable Environment
Spence Professor of Sustainable Environmental Systems
123 TAC
Clarkson University
Box 5715
Potsdam, NY 13699-5715

Phone: 315-268-6542
FAX: 315-268-4291
Click here to watch an interview with Susan Powers that was conducted in 2011 by Emily Provencher ’13, a student in Prof. Ettinger’s History of Women and Gender in America course.

Ph.D. Environmental Engineering – The University of Michigan 1992
M.S. Civil & Environmental Engineering – Clarkson University 1985
B.S. Chemical Engineering – Clarkson University 1983

Teaching and Teaching Scholarship
In the wide range of classes that Dr. Powers has taught, she focuses on teaching the process of engineering problem solving in a real-world environment. By focusing on complex and relevant environmental problems, the importance of societal impacts and communication can be stressed as well as providing a basis and relevance for technical material needed to address the engineering problem. This approach has been used in classes designed for middle school science and technology subjects, undergraduate environmental engineering lab and capstone design classes, and graduate classes in groundwater flow, physico-chemical processes, and industrial ecology.
Her education and scholarly work are integrated through research on aspects of engineering and broader STEM education.  She has had several education oriented research grants, including the NSF Director’s Award as a Distinguished Teaching Scholar.  Among these efforts, she has promoted and assessed the value of utilizing relevant project-based experiences to improve energy and climate change literacy of middle school, high school and college students.

Technical Research Interests
Dr. Powers’ has historically worked in the area of multiphase flow and contaminant transport in subsurface systems, with specific emphasis on the fate, transport, and remediation of nonaqueous phase liquids (NAPLs) in complex systems Research on the environmental fate of oxygenated gasoline led to her interest in the application of this subsurface science to aid in regulatory and policy decisions with a broader perspective on the environmental impacts of energy policy over the life cycle of energy systems.  Recent projects in this area include environmental life cycle management issues for gasoline, other transportation fuels, and dairy waste-to-energy systems.   Her current research is especially focused on defining and quantifying metrics that can be used to assess the energy and environmental benefits and liabilities associated with energy systems.

Representative Research Publications
Gilbraith, N., S.E. Powers, "Residential Demand Response Reduces Pollutant Emissions on Peak Electricity Demand Days".  Energy Policy 59: 459-469, 2013.

Kring, S.A., X. Xia, S.E. Powers, MR. Twiss, Crustacean zooplankton in aerated wastewater treatment lagoons as a potential feedstock for biofuel, Environmental Technology 2013. DOI:10.1080/09593330.2013.795985

Powers, S.E., B. Cook, “Valuing Solid Biomass Fuels for Heat: Thermodynamic and Environmental Considerations Relative to Liquid Fuels.” Biofuels, 3(2): 143-541, 2012.  doi:10.4255/BFS.12.7

Brouwer, A.F., S.J. Grimberg, S.E. Powers. “The Dynamic Anaerobic Reactor & Integrated Energy System (DARIES) Model: Model Development, Validation, and Sensitivity Analysis.” Water Environment Research 84(12): 2090-2098, 2012.

Powers, S.E., J.C. Ascough II, R. Nelson, “Modeling water and soil quality environmental impacts associated with bioenergy crop production and biomass removal in the Midwest USA.” J. Ecological Modeling 222(14): 2430 – 2447, 2011.

Powers, S.E., R. Dominguez-Faus, P.J.J. Alvarez, “Commentary - The water footprint of biofuel production in the United States.” Biofuels, 1(2): 255-260, 2010. (doi:10.4155/BFS.09.02)

Baliga, R., S.E. Powers, “Sustainable Algal Biodiesel Production in Cold Climates.” International Journal of Chemical Engineering. Article ID 102179, 13 pages, 2010. doi:10.1155/2010/102179.

Kusiima, J.M., S.E. Powers, "Monetary Value of the Environmental and Health Externalities Associated with Production of Ethanol from Biomass Feedstocks. Energy Policy, 2010. (doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2010.01.010)

Dominguez-Faus, R., S.E. Powers, J. Burken, P. Alvarez, “The Water Footprint of Biofuels: A Drink or Drive Issue?” Env. Sci. Technol. 43(9): 3005–3010, 2009 (feature) (DOI: 10.1021/es802162x) (Rice U. graduate student R. Dominguez-Faus received the 2009 NSF-AEESP Grand Challenge Student Paper Award for this paper)

Powers, S.E., “Integrating Variability into Inventory Estimates of Non-point Source Nutrient Loads from Energy Crop Production.” Int. J. LCA, 12(6): 391-398, 2007. ( )

Lavigne, A., S.E. Powers, “Valuing fuel ethanol feedstock options from multiple energy perspectives: corn and corn stover feedstocks.” Energy Policy, 35: 5918–5930, 2007.

Representative Education Publications
DeWaters, J.E., C. Andersen, A. Calderwood, S.E. Powers, "Improving Climate Literacy with Project-Based Modules Rich in Educational Rigor and Relevance". Journal of Geoscience Education, 62(3): 469-484, 2014.

DeWaters, J.E., S.E. Powers, “Establishing Measurement Criteria for an Energy Literacy Questionnaire.” J. Environmental Education, 44(1), 38-55, 2013.  DOI:10.1080/00958964.2012.711378 (

DeWaters, J.E., S.E. Powers, B. Qaqish, and M.E. Graham. “Designing an Energy Literacy Questionnaire for Middle and High School Youth.” J. Environmental Education, 44(1): 56-78, 2013. DOI:10.1080/00958964.2012.682615

DeWaters, J.E., S.E. Powers, “Energy Literacy of Secondary Students in New York State.” Energy Policy. 39: 1699–1710, 2011. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2010.12.049.

Powers, S.E., J.E. DeWaters, M.Z. Venczel, “Teaching Lifecycle Perspectives – A Sustainable Transportation Fuels Unit for High School and Undergraduate Engineering Students.” ASCE J. Prof. Issues in Engrg. Educ. & Practice, 137(2): 55-64, 2011. DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)EI.1943-5541.0000059

Powers, S.E., S. Dhaniyala J.E. DeWaters, M.M. Small, “Teaching Climate Science and Policy to Engineering Students.” In, Proceedings of the 118th Annual ASEE Conference & Exposition, Vancouver BC, June 2011.

Powers, S.E., J.E. DeWaters, “Improving Energy Literacy among Middle School Youth with Project-based Learning Pedagogies.” In: Proceedings of the 41th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, October 2011, Rapid City SD.

Powers,S.E., J.E. DeWaters,"Energy Systems and Solutions,"(an eight-lesson, 8th grade science curriculum), TeachEngineering Digital Library, 2009. (winner of 2009 Premier Curriculum Award for K-12 Engineering)

Grimberg, S.J., T.A. Langen, L.D. Compeau, S.E. Powers, “A Theme-Based Seminar on Environmental Sustainability Improves Participant Satisfaction in an Undergraduate Summer Research Program.” J. Engrg. Educ., 97(1), 95-103, 2008.

Reinhart, D.R., C. R. Baillod (plus 15 co-authors, including S.E. Powers), “Environmental Engineering Body of Knowledge.” Report prepared for AAEE, 2008.