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Civil and Environmental Engineering

Faculty - Nuclear Environmental Engineering

Co-Directors of Specialized Studies in Nuclear Environmental Engineering

James Clarke Professional Profile

James H. Clarke

Professor of the Practice, Civil and Environmental Engineering

As a result of past waste management practices that were not environmentally protective, there are thousands of contaminated sites across the U.S. that present potential human health and ecological risks through exposures to chemicals and radionuclides.  Furthermore, while the chemicals and radionuclides of interest will persist for a very long time (100s to 1000s of years), our experience with the currently favored technologies used to contain and isolate these contaminants is a few decades at best.

As a former practitioner, with over 25 years of experience in the private sector, Dr. Jim Clarke and his students focus on the investigation, environmental and risk assessment, and remediation of legacy hazardous chemical and radioactive waste sites. Of special interest are the development of monitoring and other assessment approaches, e.g., fault and event tree analyses, that can help build confidence in the performance assessment models being used to evaluate near surface contaminant containment and the development of remedial approaches that are more sustainable than those that are currently being selected.

Since joining the faculty, his research has focused on risk assessment, both human health and ecological, environmental restoration approaches for the Department of Energy's former nuclear weapons complex and comparative risk assessment for selected nuclear fuel cycles. As a former member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste and Materials, it was Dr. Clarke's role to lead decommissioning and risk-informed regulation. Currently, he serves as a consultant to the NRC Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. He is also a member of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists and a board-certified environmental scientist.

Learn more about Dr. Clarke's research and professional achievements.  Profile >>

Steve Krahn headshot

Steven L. Krahn

Professor of the Practice, Nuclear Environmental Engineering

The emerging field of Nuclear Environmental Engineering (NEE) is an area of research and practice that has grown up over the past decade to meet the dual challenges of meeting the growing needs of society for electric power while ensuring that stringent requirements in the areas of environmental protection and nuclear safety are met.

Dr. Krahn and his students focus on research projects that emphasize: understanding the environmental and societal impacts of the nuclear fuel cycle comprehensively, ensuring that new or re-engineered nuclear processes work safely, efficiently and in concert with the environment, minimizing the generation of radioactive waste, performing properly tailored risk assessments and incorporating regulatory and stakeholder insights in a coordinated and timely manner. Such projects draw on expertise in the fields of systems, nuclear, environmental and chemical engineering, along with risk assessment and policy insights.

Dr. Krahn was recently named by the Secretary of Energy to a technical and policy team evaluating programmatic improvements needed to nuclear safety culture initiatives within the Department; immediately prior to coming to Vanderbilt, Dr. Krahn served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy for Safety and Security in the Office of Environmental Management (DOE-EM).

Learn more about Dr. Krahn's research and professional achievements.  Profile >>


David S. Kosson

Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Engineering and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, joint appointments as Professor of Chemical Engineering and Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Dr. Kosson is principal investigator (with Charles Powers, co-principal investigator) of the multi-university Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation (CRESP). Professor Kosson's research focuses on management of nuclear and chemical wastes, including process development and contaminant mass transfer applied to groundwater, soil, sediment and waste systems.

Professor Kosson has participated in or led many external technical reviews on nuclear waste processing for the Department of Energy including for tank wastes and a range of technology approaches at Hanford, Savannah River and Idaho sites.

Learn more about Dr. Kosson's research and professional achievements. Profile >> 

Charles Powers 

Professor of Environmental Engineering in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department

Dr. Powers  is also co-principal investigator (with David Kosson) of the evolved Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation (CRESP). The Consortium is a uniquely trusted technical and stakeholder-responsive resource on diverse problems in legacy nuclear waste cleanup.

His research interests include: Understanding and improving the technical, social and regulatory interface for nuclear waste management; defining the scientific and technical processes and procedures that make the development of technical information publicly credible and able to inform the contexts in which such information actually facilitates risk management consensus and implementation; the integration of environmental regulatory regimes and the implications of such integration for more cost-effective and sustainable energy choice and use; and understanding and finding tools for the resolution of the ethical/legal dilemmas faced by professional practitioners in various fields including engineering, medicine, law, business and government.

Learn more about Dr. Power's research and professional achievements. Profile >>