Ian M. Bradley is an Assistant Professor of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering. His research focuses on creating sustainable biological processes to address needs in engineered and natural systems for water and wastewater treatment and resource recovery.
His research in water/wastewater treatment and in the natural environment is focused on nutrient management and aligns with the RENEW Freshwater Coastal Ecosystems focus area. His work utilizes molecular methods along with laboratory and field experimentation to link microbial community structure and function with design and operational parameters of complex systems. His current research focuses on resource recovery and wastewater treatment using microalgal systems to transform resource consuming technologies into resource producers through nutrient recovery and bioenergy generation. Microalgal systems are uniquely positioned to meet 21st century nutrient removal needs from wastewater – they offer low-cost, low-input nutrient recovery while simultaneously producing carbon-rich biomass as a bioenergy feedstock. This work seeks to elucidate how design and operational parameters influence community structure and nutrient/carbon dynamics in microalgal systems in order to achieve reliable and predictive wastewater treatment.
Nutrient outputs from wastewater treatment plants, along with agricultural runoff and industrial point sources, can also lead to the formation of toxic harmful algal blooms (HABs) in the natural environment. Additional work is looking at the effects of nutrient inputs on HABs and microbial communities in the Great Lakes. This project seeks to understand how seasonal and locational changes affect these complex communities by using molecular methods to track community changes and to better understand the system ecology.
He is also interested in sustainable biological water and wastewater treatment in a global context, and in how biological processes can offer low-input, decentralized treatment to areas that need it most.