Paul Westerhoff, PhD, PE, BCEE is a Regent Professor and the Fulton Chair of Environmental Engineering in the School of Sustainable Engineering and The Built Environment at Arizona State University (ASU). Prior to serving as a STEPS co-Deputy Director, he continues as the Deputy Director of the NSF Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Nanotechnology Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT) which aims to discover and apply new processes to provide fit-for-purpose water applications ranging from potable water to industrial wastewater treatment. In this role he also helps recruit and work with over 20 industrial partners in identifying key research needs and strategies using nanotechnology to provide new, chemical-free, approaches to removing pollutants from water and decreasing the energy footprint of water treatment. One line of research uses nanoparticle interactions with the broad spectrum of electromagnetic energy to disinfect water and transform the historically most challenging pollutants to innocuous by-products. Building upon fundamental research on nanoparticle interaction with evanescent wave energy in the ultraviolet spectra, his team with students patented the technology, won various pitch-competitions, launched a start-up and won Phase 1 and 2 STTR support from NASA. His experience working with students, faculty, start-ups and an entire ecosystem of NGO and for-profit companies has allowed NEWT to accelerate the pace of adoption of new technology into the water sector.
Westerhoff earned a BS from Lehigh University and then MS from University of Massachusetts, worked in private practice, and then obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder. After joining ASU in 1995, he was promoted to full professor as a University Exemplar in 2007 based upon his interdisciplinary achievements. Since then he served as Department Chair in Civil and Environmental Engineering, founding Director for the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Associate Dean for Research in FSE which has over 350 engineering faculty, and ASU Vice Provost for Academic Research Programming, and Senior Advisor on Science and Engineering to the ASU Provost.
Westerhoffs’ research group develops methods to understand what pollutants are in water, frameworks to understand if the pollutants are at levels of concern, and technologies to mitigate risks from the pollutants of concern. He has mentored over 30 PhD students and over 30 MS students who now work in private practice, academia, government labs and NGOs. He has mentored numerous graduate students and over 20 post-docs and research faculty. His group has published over 325 papers peer reviewed journals. He is the recipient of several awards including the recipient of the 2020 A.P. Black award from the American Water Works Association, 2019 NWRI Clarke Prize for excellence in the fields of water science and technology, 2017 Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization Annual Achievement Award, ASU Outstanding Doctoral Mentor for 2015, 2013 ARCADIS/AEESP Frontier in Research Award, and 2006 Paul L. Busch Award.
Westerhoff comes from a family of outdoor enthusiasts and has two entrepreneurial brothers running clean energy related small businesses. He has a deep routed passion and understanding in how humans impact and benefit from environmental systems. Combined with his administrative experience helping faculty and institution advance scientific and engineering missions that lead to tangible societal outcomes by working with industry and NGO, he will help STEPS realize its ambitious goals of advancing convergence science by reducing society’s reliance of mined phosphate rock.