Nanomaterials Scientist Mark Wiesner Joins Duke Civil and Environmental Faculty

Mark WiesnerDurham, N.C. – Mark R. Wiesner, former director of the Environmental and Energy Systems Institute at Rice University, has joined Duke’s faculty as a professor of civil and environmental engineering.

Wiesner's research focuses on membrane processes, nanostructured materials, transport and fate of nanomaterials in the environment, colloidal and interfacial processes, environmental systems analysis and energy technologies. He joined Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering on July 1.

"I'm interested in the environmental implications of the manufacturing, use and disposal of nanomaterials," said Wiesner. "Duke offers the perfect environment to explore this through collaborations with the Nicholas School for the Environment and Earth Sciences, Duke's School of Medicine and the Terry Sanford Institute for Public Policy.”

In 2000, Wiesner, who also was professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rice, was one of the first to articulate the need for research on environmental implications of nanotechnology and has worked extensively with colleagues at the Environmental Protection Agency, National Science Foundation and in the European Union to advance this research. Wiesner has since advocated the need for nanotechnology and environmental and economic policy to advance in parallel. In 2005, he wrote a commentary titled “Towards a Green Nanotechnology” ( for Project Syndicate, a non-profit international association of newspapers.

“As a research community, we need to determine what proactive measures should be taken to make the use of nanomaterials a sustainable endeavor, and not an environmental liability," he said. Wiesner said he looks forward to being part of a research community at Duke focused on the environmental impacts, policy and economics of nanotechnology.

"We are delighted to have Mark join our faculty. He will provide outstanding leadership in environmental engineering. He comes to us with a strong record of achievement from Rice University, and we look forward to continued success," said Lawrence Virgin, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Wiesner is the U.S. director of the European Union/United States University Consortium on Environmental Engineering Education, and associate editor for the Journal of Environmental Engineering.

He earned a Ph.D. in environmental engineering from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, a M.S. in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Iowa, and a B.A. in mathematics/biology from COE College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He conducted postdoctoral studies at the Chemical Engineering Sciences Laboratory at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Industries Chimiques (ENSIC) in Nancy, France and is a licensed professional engineer in Texas.

Wiesner is also one of three founders of the Houston-based Oxane Materials Inc., a product-focused nanomaterials company offering high temperature stable PEM fuel cell membranes, low-cost composites, and coatings that can withstand can withstand extreme environments.