Areas of Emphasis

Air Quality Engineering

Research at Berkeley on air quality problems spans a wide range of scales from indoor microenvironments, plume dispersion, urban and regional air pollution, to global changes in climate and atmospheric chemistry. We are especially interested in environmental and public health issues related to the built environment, including energy and transportation systems.

Follow the links below for details on the activities of specific research groups. We also provide a range of course offerings of interest to students majoring in energy, environment, and public health-related fields.


The seven CEE faculty below conduct research that focuses on Air Quality, Atmospheric Sciences, and Life Cycle Assessment/Sustainability.


  • Tina Chow
  • Ashok Gadgil
  • Allen Goldstein

  • Robert Harley

  • Arpad Horvath

  • Thomas Kirchstetter
  • William Nazaroff

Students are encouraged to investigate course offerings and additional research opportunities at:


See Berkeley Academic Guide for all course descriptions.

The graduate classes in air quality (CE 218ABC) emphasize the processes that determine the concentrations, fates, and effects of air pollutants; they also consider the social context in which engineered solutions must be developed. These courses are designed to be complementary and to provide a foundation for either professional practice or advanced study and research. Students pursuing a major emphasis in AQE should include as many of these courses in their program of study as is practical. We also offer various weekly seminar series that you are encouraged to attend. Many graduate students find that expertise they gain from coursework in air quality engineering is useful, even if their primary interest lies in other specialties such as water quality or fluid mechanics.

Air Quality

  • CE 106 Air Pollution
  • CE 107 Climate Change Mitigation
  • CE 218A Air Quality Engineering (offered every spring semester)

Other courses of interest

  • CE 200A Environmental Fluid Mechanics
  • CE 200B Numerical Modeling of Environmental Flows
  • CE 200C Transport and Mixing in the Environment
  • CE 211A Environmental Physical/Chemical Processes
  • CE 217 Environmental Chemical Kinetics
  • CE 268E Civil Systems and the Environment
  • EPS C181 Atmospheric Physics & Dynamics
  • ERG 200 Interdisciplinary Energy Analysis
  • ESPM 129 Biometeorology
  • GEOG 142 Climate Dynamics
  • PH 270B Toxicology I


Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Hydrology

Research at Berkeley focuses on the study of the physical processes that govern the movement of air and water in the natural environment, and the associated transport of contaminants, energy, and other scalars.

We take an integrated approach to studies of the coastal ocean and estuaries, the atmospheric boundary layer, surface and subsurface water flow, land-atmosphere interactions, the management of water resource systems, climate change and variability, contaminant transport in the environment, and the interaction of these and other topics.

We encourage you to apply your work to areas of individual interest, e.g., environmental quality and ecology, air pollution, climate dynamics, contaminant fate and transport, geomorphology and sediment transport, ecosystem dynamics, and public health.


  • Tina Chow
  • John Dracup
  • Yoram Rubin
  • Mark Stacey
  • Sally Thompson
  • Evan Variano


See Berkeley Academic Guide for all course descriptions.

The EFMH emphasis typically consists of 4-5 courses in the major field and, for the PhD, 2 each from 2 minor fields that are chosen according to your interest and your faculty adviser's recommendations.

For the Masters program, no specific minor is required, but we strongly recommend electives from the list of minors below. We consider undergraduate fluid mechanics (equivalent to CE 100) and hydrology (CE 103) to be prerequisites to the graduate program, and recommend preparation in differential equations, statistics and computer programming.

  • CE 200A Environmental Fluid Mechanics
  • CE 200B Numerical Modeling of Environmental Flows
  • CE 200C Transport and Mixing in the Environment
  • CE 202A Vadose Zone Hydrology
  • CE 202B Geostatistics and Stochastic Hydrogeology
  • CE 203 Surface Water Hydrology
  • CE 219 Contaminant Transport Processes

Examples of minors

  • Numerical Methods (Math 128A, Math 128B, Math 228A, Math 228B, CS 267)
  • Fluid Mechanics (ME 260A, ME 260B, ME 263, ME 267)
  • Sediment Dynamics (EPS 117, EPS 217)
  • Atmospheric Science (ESPM 228, Geog 257, Geog 142, EPS 181, ESPM 129)
  • Applied Hydrology (EPS 240, LA 227, ESPM 150, ESPM 290)
  • Statistics (Stats 200A, Stats 200B, EPS 120)
  • Environmental Economics and Policy (ER 100, ER 120, ER 275, ARE 261)

See also:


Water Quality Engineering

Water is essential to society and the ecological systems on which it depends. As water moves through the hydrologic cycle it can become contaminated with substances that pose risks to living things. Water quality engineering addresses the sources, transport and treatment of chemical and microbiological contaminants that affect water. Research and coursework in water quality engineering at Berkeley focus on assessment of the sources, fate and transport of contaminants and the development of natural and engineered treatment systems for chemical contaminants and human pathogens. Because water quality is intimately linked to water quantity and movement, students in the water quality area frequently pursue research and coursework related to environmental fluid mechanics and hydrology (see section above).


The best way to obtain an overview of water quality engineering at UC Berkeley is to visit the homepages of our faculty members. On the faculty homepages you can read overviews of current research projects and find links to recent publications. To learn more about current and future research opportunities, contact the faculty member by e-mail.


  • Lisa Alvarez-Cohen
  • Ashok Gadgil
  • Slawomir Hermanowicz
  • Kara Nelson
  • David Sedlak
  • Garrison Sposito


See Berkeley Academic Guide for all course descriptions.

The water quality engineering program includes graduate and undergraduate classes in a variety of areas of potential interest to masters and doctoral students. As part of the MS program, students specializing in water quality engineering take 1 or both core classes in water quality engineering and 2 of the core classes from those listed for Air Quality Engineering and Environmental Fluid Mechanics or Hydrology. The remaining courses may be taken from a number of different areas, provided that they meet the university requirements with respect to graduate degrees.

Water Quality Engineering

  • CE 210A Pathogens and Water Quality
  • CE 211A Environmental Physical-Chemical Processes
  • CE 211B Environmental Biological Processes
  • CE 217  Environmental Chemical Kinetics

Other Environmental Engineering courses

  • CE 113 Engineering for Water Quality Improvement
  • CE 114 Environmental Microbiology
  • CE 115 Water Chemistry
  • CE 116 Environmental Aqueous Geochemistry
  • CE 173 Groundwater and Seepage
  • CE 200A Environmental Fluid Mechanics
  • CE 203 Surface Water Hydrology

Other selected elective courses (not all courses are offered every year)

  • ARE 262 Environmental Economics
  • CRP 214 Infrastructure Planning and Policy
  • CRP 251 Environmental Planning and Regulation
  • ECON 162 Economics of Water Resources
  • ESPM 167  Environmental Health and Development
  • LA 227 Restoration of Rivers and Streams
  • NE 175 Methods of Risk Analysis
  • PH 220C Risk Assessment, Policy, and Toxics Regulation