David Sedlak standing in pool with sculpture to his right.

Research Expertise and Interest

fate and transport of and transformation of chemicals in the aquatic environment, water reuse and water recycling, urban water infrastructure, engineered treatment wetlands

Research Description

David Sedlak is a Vice Chair for Graduate Studies and Professor of Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley. Sedlak’s research focuses on the fate of chemical contaminants, with the long-term goal of developing cost-effective, safe, and sustainable systems to manage water resources. He is particularly interested in the development of local sources of water. Sedlak’s research has addressed water reuse--the practice of using municipal wastewater effluent to sustain aquatic ecosystems and augment drinking water supplies--as well as the treatment and use of urban runoff to contaminated groundwater from contaminated industrial sites as water supplies. Sedlak also received the Fulbright Specialist Award for New Zealand in 2019 and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2016, one of the highest honors given to an engineer, among other notable achievements.

In addition to his laboratory and field research, Sedlak is interested in developing new approaches for managing the urban water cycle. He pursues these efforts through research coordinated through the National Science Foundation's Engineering Research Center for Reinventing the Nation's Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt), the Berkeley Water Center, and the National Alliance for Water Innovation. Sedlak is also the author of "Water 4.0", a book that examines the ways we can gain insight into current water issues by analyzing the history of urban water systems.

See Sedlak's full list of Publications, Awards, Students, and Teaching information.

In the News

Sustainable sand gives pollution a one-two punch

UC Berkeley engineers have developed a mineral-coated sand that can soak up toxic metals like lead and cadmium from water. Along with its ability to destroy organic pollutants like bisphenol A, this material could help cities tap into stormwater, an abundant but underused water source.

Engineered sand zaps storm water pollutants

UC Berkeley engineers have created a new way to remove contaminants from storm water, potentially addressing the needs of water-stressed communities that are searching for ways to tap the abundant and yet underused source of fresh drinking water.

New NSF center tackles urban water infrastructure

The NSF has announced a five-year, $18.5 million grant to fund a new Engineering Research Center (ERC) to re-invent the country’s urban water infrastructure, which is seeing increasing challenges from age, population growth and the effects of climate change. The new center will be led by Stanford University in partnership with UC Berkeley, Colorado School of Mines and New Mexico State University.

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