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Bob Nairn walks carrying water quality testing equipments

Robert W. Nairn, Ph.D., BCES

Dr. Robert (Bob) Nairn holds both the David L. Boren Professorship and Sam K. Viersen Family Presidential Professorship in the School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science (CEES) at the University of Oklahoma (OU). Dr. Nairn is a Board Certified Environmental Scientist through the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (Certification by Eminence, 2021). He serves as the director of the Center for Restoration of Ecosystems and Watersheds (CREW), the Associate Director of the Water Technologies for Emerging Regions (WaTER) Center and Adjunct Professor of Biology

Having grown up in Hopewell Township, near the steel town of Aliquippa along the Ohio River in western Pennsylvania, Dr. Nairn earned his BS in Environmental Science at Juniata College (Huntingdon, PA) in 1989. Within this time, he completed a Science and Engineering Research Semester at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory (Long Island, NY) and a summer at the University of Montana Flathead Lake Biological Station (Polson, MT). Dr. Nairn worked as a Research Biologist with the U.S. Bureau of Mines Pittsburgh Research Center following graduation before returning to graduate school at The Ohio State University (Columbus, OH) in 1992. His dissertation, completed by 1996, was one of the first research projects to be performed at the Olentangy River Wetlands Research Park. Dr. Nairn has been on the faculty at OU since 1997. To learn more about his teaching, research and other interests, please visit his personal homepage.

Robert Knox sits at the Grand Canyon

Robert C. Knox, Ph.D., PE
Associate Director

Dr. Robert (Bob) Knox is the Ted A. Kritikos Chair and Presidential Professor in the School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science (CEES) at the University of Oklahoma (OU). Dr. Knox serves as Associate Director for the Center for Restoration of Ecosystems and Watersheds (CREW).

Dr. Knox earned his BS, MS, and PhD in Civil Engineering, receiving all three degrees from OU. Following graduate school, he worked as an Environmental Engineer for the Environmental and Ground Water Institute. With this experience under his belt, Dr. Knox went on to become an Assistant Professor for the Department of Civil Engineering at McNeese State University (Lake Charles, LA). He has been on the faculty at OU since 1986 and has served various positions throughout the years, including as the Samual Roberts Noble Presidential Professor, John A. Myers Professor and Director and the Ted A. Kritikos Chair and Director. His main research interests include subsurface transport and fate processes, ground water remediation technologies, ground water modeling, and the impacts of petroleum hydrocarbons, oilfield brines and mining effluents. To learn more about Dr. Knox’s background, refer to his CV.

Lori Han

Lori Han, Ph.D.
Associate Director

Dr. Lori Han is the new Engineering with Nature faculty (Aug. 2023) for the School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science. She holds a BS in Wildlife Biology (2010), an MS in Water Resource Science with a minor in Geographic Information Systems (2012), and a PhD in Bioproducts/Biosystems Engineering (2018), all from the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Han's area of expertise is primarily in natural and nature-based best solutions that improve water quality in degraded aquatic environments. Her previous research work was done in agricultural settings of the upper Midwest. Some of her key projects back in Minnesota include economic, stability, biotic, and nutrient removal studies on a two-stage agricultural drainage ditch, prioritization of sentinel watersheds for efficient state-wide water quality monitoring, and nutshell-based biochar bioreactor lab experiments. She has research interests more broadly in terms of natural resource management (water, soil, vegetation, wildlife), conservation and sustainability (habitat restoration, ecological engineering, sustainable land use) as well as mapping and modeling (GIS, Excel).

She has held positions as a naturalist, research fellow, engineering consultant, academic editor, middle and high school math tutor, and, most recently, as a 6th grade math and science instructor and early math interventionist. Her personal interests include rock climbing, yoga, weightlifting, biking, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries, and hanging out with her husband and two cats.

Post-Doctoral Researchers

We are on the lookout for passionate post-doctoral researchers with expertise in: watershed biogeochemistry, ecological engineering, Engineering With Nature, systems modeling, and more!

If you are ready to dive into cutting-edge research, reach out to us at

Research Staff

None at this time.

Visiting Scholars

None at this time.  

Graduate Students

M'Kenzie Dorman stands in muddy waders

M'Kenzie Dorman
PhD Student, Environmental Engineering

M’Kenzie is originally from Lubbock, Texas but now considers Norman, OK home. She received her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering from OU in May 2018. She completed her Master’s thesis looking at the degassing of carbon dioxide and iron oxidation driven by mechanical aeration systems not historically used in passive treatment systems in December 2019. She is currently working on her PhD dissertation evaluating the sustainable reuse of iron oxides produced from mine drainage as phosphorus sorbents. When she is not out getting dirty in the field, M’Kenzie likes to hike, work on DIY projects, create sea glass art, read a good book and spend time with her adventurous dog and friends.

Justine McCann stands in SEC ox-pond waters

Justine McCann
PhD Student, Environmental Science

Justine received her BS in Geoscience from Penn State in 2014. After graduating, she returned to her hometown of Atlanta, GA to work in contaminated site remediation and environmental compliance at CH2M Hill and AECOM. She completed her Master's of Environmental Science degree with CREW in 2021, with research focusing on characterizing accumulated solids in passive treatment systems at the Tar Creek Superfund Site. Her PhD work will continue to focus on the Tar Creek watershed. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, hiking, and reading.

Cheyenne Morgan working in CREW labs

Cheyenne Morgan
PhD Student, Environmental Science

Cheyenne received her BA in History from Northern Illinois University. From there she developed a love for all things water related and went on to complete master's degrees in Environmental Geology, Hydrogeology, and Anthropology. Her previous graduate research focused on karst contaminant hydrogeology and human socioeconomic roles in relation to contaminated site histories. After graduating, Cheyenne went on to a career as a contaminant hydrogeologist and project manager in the environmental consulting sector.  She has now returned to school in pursuit of a PhD in Environmental Science.

Leif Olson stands in muddy waders

Leif Olson
PhD Student, Environmental Science

Originally from the mountains of western North Carolina, Leif researched freshwater and behavioral ecology while earning a BS from UC Santa Cruz, then studied ecotoxicology and environmental chemistry while obtaining a Master of Environmental Management degree working in the Duke University Wetland Center. He later spent time as a consultant in the fields of sustainable agriculture and land management, exploring the connections between organic waste management, soil quality and the roles of fungi and other microorganisms in mitigating environmental degradation and improving landscape fertility.  He joined CREW in 2022 to pursue a PhD in Environmental Science, focusing on the role of naturally occurring microbes in bioremediation. Leif enjoys nature excursions, science fiction, comedy and jazz rock. 

Hailey Seago stands in the forest

Hailey Seago
PhD Student, Environmental Science

Hailey is from Claremore, Oklahoma. She received her BS in Medical/Molecular Biology (2018) from Rogers State University and her MS in Environmental Science (2021) from Oklahoma State University. Her research focused on using GIS to identify suitable areas to implement sustainable drainage systems in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Hailey is currently developing a research idea for her PhD work based on her interests in spatial science and remote sensing. In her spare time, you can find her spending time with friends and family. Hailey enjoys backpacking in remote wilderness areas across the United States and practicing conservation techniques when possible.

Ali Meek sits next to river

Alissa Meek
MS Student, Environmental Science

Ali is from Coweta, Oklahoma. She received her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, Water Resources from Oklahoma State University in 2021. Ali is now pursuing a graduate degree in Environmental Science and is working to develop her thesis project. Her research interests are centered on finding low cost, high impact water treatment and management options for developing regions. Outside of school, Ali enjoys singing, playing guitar, writing, and being active outdoors.

James Queen waters a wetland mesocosm

James Queen
MS Student, Environmental Engineering

James Queen is from Bullock Creek, South Carolina. He received his Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering from OU in May 2022. He is currently pursuing his Master’s of Science in Environmental Engineering. His research is focused on utilizing constructed wetlands for the treatment and removal of constituents of emerging concern (CEC’s) from storm water and secondary treated wastewater. James enjoys yoga, hiking, playing guitar, and slappin’ da bass.

Sam Taylor carrying testing equipment throur the MRPTS ox-pond

Sam Taylor
MS Student, Environmental Engineering

Sam recieved their BS in Environmental Engineering with a minor in Water and Sanitation for Health and Sustainable Development from OU in 2023.  They are currently pursuing a MS in Environmental Engineering and developing a thesis focusing on wetland indicators and water quality.  Their primary interests are environmental remediation and sustainable water technologies.  As an undergraduate, Sam completed HERE and UROP research physically classifying iron oxyhydroxide residuals, which was presented at the 2023 ASRS conference.  In their free time, Sam likes to read, garden, spend time outdoors, and go to concerts.

Lynn Nguyen sits on a rock

Lynn Nguyen
MS Student, Environmental Science

Lynn is from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Central Oklahoma in Biology-Biomedical Science (2023). Lynn is currently pursuing her Master of Environmental Science degree. Her research interest is focused on the utilization of constructed wetlands to treat and remove contaminants of emerging concern from stormwater and wastewater; specifically, examining the role of vegetation in this process. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, photography, and anything arts and crafts, from embroidery, sewing, drawing, painting to crocheting. 

Undergraduate Researchers

Olivia Mitchell standing in a creek

Olivia Mitchell 
BS Student, Environmental Engineering

Olivia is a senior majoring in Environmental Engineering and has applied to pursue her M.S. in environmental science. With her degree, she hopes to create inventive solutions that correct our growing environmental challenges using an ecological approach. Working with CREW, Olivia helps as an Undergraduate Research Assistant by performing a combination of field and laboratory assignments. She was awarded EREA to investigate the trace metal content of vegetation used for phytoremediation and the possible consequences for wildlife due to bioaccumulation. In her free time, you can usually find her hiking, cooking, or with her nose buried in a book. 

Audrey Richardson holds a goat

Audrey Richardson
BS Student, Environmental Science

Audrey is from Edmond, Oklahoma. She is pursuing a B.S. in Environmental Science and plans to pursue a M.S.. Her primary interests are remediation and conservation. Working with CREW, Audrey helps as an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the lab as well as in the field. Outside of school Audrey enjoys photography, gardening, cooking and traveling.

Sydney Nordquist
BS Student, Environmental Science

Sydney is a junior from Albuquerque, New Mexico pursuing a B.S. in Environmental Science. She plans on pursuing an M.S. as well. Her primary research interests are water quality and conservation research. Working with CREW, Sydney assists as an Undergraduate Research Assistant. In her free time, she enjoys reading, gardening, spending time outside, and hanging out with friends.