Amy Childress

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Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering


  • Doctoral Degree, Civil Engineering, University of California - Los Angeles
  • Master's Degree, Civil Engineering, University of California - Los Angeles
  • Bachelor's Degree, Civil Engineering, University of Maryland College Park


Dr. Childress joined the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department in summer 2013 as professor and director of CEE's environmental engineering program. Dr. Childress currently serves on the AEESP Foundation Board of Directors and previously served as the AEESP President. She earned her bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Maryland and her master's degree and PhD in civil and environmental engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Childress was previously professor and chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Nevada, Reno.
For the past 20 years, Professor Childress' research and scholarly interests have been in the area of membrane processes for desalination, water treatment, and wastewater reclamation. Professor Childress has directed research projects funded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, NSF, NASA, Office of Naval Research, U.S. Department of Energy, California Energy Commission, California Department of Water Resources, the U.S. EPA, and SERDP, as well as local and private agencies.
She leads a research group that has produced numerous peer-reviewed publications, proceeding papers, and patents

Research Summary

Dr. Childress' research addresses the global challenge of fresh water scarcity. Her current research interests focus on membrane contactor processes for innovative solutions to contaminant and energy challenges; pressure-driven membrane processes as industry standards for desalination and water reuse; membrane bioreactor technology; and colloidal and interfacial aspects of membrane processes. Dr. Childress looks forward to addressing wastewater reclamation and seawater desalination challenges that occur in southern California and around the world.

Improvements to drinking water treatment and wastewater reclamation processes are critical for achieving fresh water supply goals. Further, process sustainability through the reduction of discharge by-products to the environment, the limiting of chemical and material consumption for treatment, and the minimization of energy, carbon, and infrastructure footprints of treatment systems is necessary. Complimentary to this, efficient water use in energy generation is an ongoing quest to reduce bulk water stress.
Membrane processes can play a key role in minimizing the interdependence of water and energy. Optimization of conventional processes and integration with newer processes can lead to novel hybrid systems with improved environmental sustainability.

Dr. Childress pursues fundamental research, process development, and field applications to evaluate the energy, recovery, and water quality advantages that will lead to further development of advanced systems to reduce energy consumption in clean water production, to reuse water during energy production, and to leverage uncommon sources to produce energy. Clearly, consideration of all sides of the water-energy nexus is necessary to provide holistic and realistic solutions to the problem of finite water and energy resources.


  • 2014 University Fellowship, UCLA 1992 University Fellowship, UCLA
  • 2014 UCLA 1993 UC Chancellor’s Graduate Opportunity Fellowship
  • 2014 Irvine 1994 Irvine Ranch Water District Scholarship
  • 2014 AWRA 1994 AWRA Boggess Award for the best paper published in Water Resources Bulletin during the previous year
  • 2014 Central Basin and West Basin Municipal Water Districts 1995 Clair A. Hill Scholarship
  • 2014 ACS 1995 Division of Environmental Chemistry Graduate Student Award
  • 2014 UCLA 1996 Research Mentorship Fellowship
  • 2014 AWWA 1996 Larson Aquatic Research Support (LARS) Scholarship
  • 2014 ACS 1996 ACS Certificate of Merit
  • 2008 2008 EEF Board of Directors
  • 2008 AEESP 2008 AEESP President
  • 2007 NAE Frontiers of Engineering Invited speaker
  • 2007 2007 Advisory Board of Desalination
  • 2001 NAMS International Travel Award
  • 2001 EPA EPSCoR Junior Faculty Travel Award
  • 2001 UNR Student Chapter of AWRA Excellence in Teaching Honorable Mention Award
  • 2001 National Science Foundation CAREER Award
  • 2000 EPA EPSCoR EPA EPSCoR Junior Faculty Travel Award
  • Dir-Center, Center for Water Reuse (ReWater)
  • Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

  • BHE 215
  • Biegler Hall of Engineering
  • 920 Downey Way, Los Angeles, CA 90089
  • USC Mail Code: 2531

Contact Information
  • (213) 740-6304


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