Adam Smith

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Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering


  • 2014, Doctoral Degree, Civil Engineering, University of Michigan Ann Arbor
  • 2011, Master's Degree, Civil Engineering, University of Michigan Ann Arbor
  • 2009, Bachelor's Degree, Civil Engineering, Marquette University


Dr. Adam L. Smith received his Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2014. He received his M.S.E. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2011 and his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Marquette University in 2009. He is currently as Assistant Professor in the Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Southern California.

Research Summary

Dr. Smith's research evaluates new and emerging environmental biotechnologies to improve the sustainability of water systems. Our water infrastructure is at an important interface between the built and natural environment. Historically, environmental engineers have focused on protecting local water quality by reducing pollutant loading via wastewater treatment. We now strive to encompass broader (e.g., regional and global) environmental protection by developing systems that minimize energy demand and other inputs while recovering resources such as energy, nutrients, and water from waste streams. Dr. Smith's research focuses on anaerobic biotechnologies such as anaerobic membrane bioreactors that are capable of matching treatment performance of existing aerobic systems while generating methane-rich biogas, a renewable energy resource. These systems also generate an effluent rich in nutrients creating opportunities for non-potable agricultural reuse. This carries increasing relevance as many regions including Southern California are faced with intense water shortage. Dr. Smith's research incorporates process engineering, microbial ecology through the use of advanced molecular biology tools, and sustainability assessment (e.g., life cycle assessment). He is especially interested in microbial syntrophy in anaerobic communities, the impacts of low temperatures on microorganisms, and differences between biofilm and planktonic communities in treatment systems. The overarching goal of his research is to develop a self-sustaining water management system that generates reuse water with minimal environmental footprint.


    • KAP 238A
    • Kaprielian Hall
    • 3620 South Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90089
    • USC Mail Code: 2531

    Contact Information
    • (213) 740-0473


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