Professor Karl Linden Wins Stansell Family Distinguished Research Award

Karl Linden, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering, has received the new Stansell Family Distinguished Research Award for his work on using ultraviolet light to disinfect drinking water and destroy chemical pollutants.

Linden, who joined the Pratt faculty in 1999, was selected by a committee of senior associate deans headed by Pratt Dean Kristina M. Johnson. The award, consisting of a plaque and $2,000, was presented at the school’s Engineering Alumni Banquet April 24.

“You should take great pride in standing out for your research achievements, particularly amongst the truly outstanding cohort of scholars we have at Pratt,” Johnson said in notifying Linden of the honor. “This award is not only in recognition of those achievements, but also acknowledges and rewards the leadership role you are assuming within our community.”

Professor Robert L. Clark Jr., senior associate dean, said Linden “embodies those attributes of a faculty member that we all embrace: a passionate commitment to research and education. Holding a broad portfolio of extramural research funding devoted to alternative disinfectants and advanced oxidation for water and wastewater treatment, Karl's work is having significant impact nationally and internationally in the field of environmental engineering, and we're fortunate to have him here at Duke, educating undergraduate and graduate students in this important field of study.”

The award was established by Stacy Stansell Klein, a 1991 Pratt graduate whose husband, Garrett Klein, and 4-year-old son, Bennett Derby Klein, were killed in a Georgia traffic accident Dec. 28, 2003, as the Kleins were driving from Florida to Nashville. Stacy Klein was injured in the accident. Garrett Klein was senior associate director of undergraduate admissions at Vanderbilt University and Stacy Klein is an research assistant professor at the university and also teaches at the University School of Nashville. Her father, Stanley R. Stansell, is professor and Robert Dillard Teer Jr. Distinguished Professor in Business at East Carolina University.

Linden’s research focuses on the evaluation of alternatives to chlorine for disinfecting water for drinking. Chlorination to kill germs in water is undergoing new regulatory scrutiny because of its potential for forming potentially hazardous byproducts. One alternative to chlorine that doesn’t seem to produce any byproducts is ultraviolet (UV) disinfection, the use of especially energetic wavelengths of light in a range shorter than humans can see.

Linden, who also is Warren Faculty Scholar, is studying lingering questions about UV. Those include evaluating the best wavelengths to disable various pathogens, whether ultraviolet light may spawn so-far-undetected byproducts, whether it can help break down chemical contaminants such as pesticides, and how much ultraviolet light is enough.

“One of the big challenges facing the world today is the availability of potable water for an expanding world population -- and Karl's work in ultraviolet disinfection has been seminal in advancing new technological solutions to meet this critical societal need,” said Tod A. Laursen, professor of civil and environmental engineering and senior associate dean for education.

Linden received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural and biological engineering from Cornell and went on to earn a M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of California at Davis. He also has spent time in Switzerland, Austria, Latin America and India evaluating waste treatment practices.

In addition to his research, Linden teaches classes on physical and chemical treatment processes, and chemistry and microbiology for environmental engineers.