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Professor named to National Academy of Engineers

Dominic M. Di Toro
5:45 p.m., Feb. 22, 2005--A University of Delaware professor noted for his leading-edge work in the establishment of water quality standards and the development of water quality models has been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

Dominic M. Di Toro, UD’s Edward C. Davis Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering with a joint appointment as a professor of oceanography in the College of Marine Studies, is among the NAE’s 74 new U.S. members and 10 foreign associates.

Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice or education. It recognizes scientists who have been pioneers in new and developing fields of technology, made major advancements in traditional fields of engineering or developed innovative approaches to engineering education.

Di Toro was selected because of his leadership in the development and application of mathematical models for establishing water-quality criteria and making management decisions.

“Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions that can be bestowed upon an engineer, and the College of Engineering is extremely proud of the honor accorded Dominic,” Eric Kaler, Elizabeth Inez Kelley Professor of Chemical Engineering and dean of the UD College of Engineering, said.

See related article:
Alumnus elected to engineering academy

Di Toro said he is both “flattered and gratified” by his election to the academy. “I am pleased to have the respect and appreciation of my peers,” he said.

Di Toro has managed or directed water quality studies of some of America’s most important bodies of water, including New York, Boston and Milwaukee harbors, the Delaware, Ohio, Sacramento and Potomac rivers, and the Chesapeake and San Francisco bays.

He has developed mathematical models of chemicals that are discharged into bodies of water, tracking where the chemicals go and how they behave, and has done important work in developing water and sediment quality criteria to determine how much of a given chemical would impair the aquatic health of a water body.

Di Toro said his work is done collaboratively, which he said is a characteristic of modern environmental engineering. “The problems we are dealing with are too complicated for one person or one discipline,” he said. “Water quality problems must be attacked using multiple disciplines: biology, toxicology and chemistry, as well as engineering, to create successful and useful models.”

Information based on Di Toro’s work has been the basis of governmental regulations and in some cases is now standard practice in the water quality industry.

Models he developed were used to set the standards in a treaty between the United States and Canada regulating phosphorous discharges in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. 

Di Toro was the technical leader through the 1990s as the federal Environmental Protection Agency embarked on the development of sediment quality criteria, and he is the author of the well-received book Sediment Flux Modeling.

As a consultant and principal at the environmental consulting firm HydroQual Inc., Di Toro has participated in or directed numerous water quality modeling projects. These studies have involved an analysis of the impact of municipal, industrial and nonpoint sources on water quality.

Di Toro earned his bachelor’s degree from Manhattan College and both his master’s degree, in electrical engineering, and his doctorate, in civil and geological engineering, from Princeton University. 

Before joining the UD faculty, he was the Donald J. O’Connor Professor of Environmental Engineering at Manhattan College.

Article by Neil Thomas
Photos by Duane Perry

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