Faculty and Staff

Charles Driscoll

Charles T. Driscoll

Title: University Professor of Environmental Systems and Distinguished Professor


  • B.S. (with distinction), Civil Engineering, University of Maine 1974
  • M.S., Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, 1976
  • Ph.D., Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, 1980

Lab/Center Affiliation(s):

  • Center for Environmental Systems Engineering

Research interests:

  • Aquatic chemistry
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Climate change effects
  • Environmental quality modeling
  • Ecosystem restoration
  • Ecosystem science
  • Stormwater management
  • Hydrology
  • Limnology
  • Soil chemistry

Current Research:

My research largely involves characterization and quantifying the impacts of air pollution, such as “acid rain,” mercury, and elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide and associated effects of changing climate on the structure and function of ecosystems. Much of my work has focused on forest and associated aquatic resources, including studies at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, NH and the Huntington Forest in the Adirondacks, NY. I also examine effects on wetlands, the Great Lakes, urban ecosystems, coastal waters and the open ocean. Over the past thirty years, I have advanced new analytical techniques, established and maintained long-term measurements and experiments, and developed a series of research and predictive models that simulate transformations of major chemical elements in forest vegetation, soil and surface waters in response to air pollution, climate and land disturbance. Moving beyond theory, I am interested in testing ‘in situ’ strategies to reverse the damaging effects of acid rain and mercury contamination and eutrophication. Current research includes using models, field experiments and measurements to examine: ecosystem effects of changing climate and acidic, nitrogen and mercury deposition; the effectiveness of “green” water infrastructure in stormwater management; and ecosystem restoration.

To advance the “broader impacts” of research, I try to provide service to society through participation in various national and international committees and panels; advising federal and state agencies; working with natural resource managers and policy makers; briefing Congress and state officials; serving as an associate editor for the journal, Biogeochemistry; and informing the media and the public on the results of research. I am particularly interested in multidisciplinary activities, and synthesis and translation of scientific and engineering research. These activities inform my research. Finally, I am interested in improving and advancing science communication. I want science and engineering information to be accessible to the public and policy-makers to help guide cost-effective decisions on natural resource management.

Teaching Interests:

  • Environmental chemistry
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Sustainability science
  • Water quality modeling.

I teach undergraduate and graduate-level classes in environmental engineering, sustainable civil and environmental systems, aquatic chemistry and biogeochemistry. I have a large number of graduate students, undergraduate students and even some high school students who work in my laboratory. These students have a keen interest in research. They are encouraged to interpret their results in the context of environmental problems and issues, to interact with the research community beyond Syracuse University, present the findings of their research at professional meetings and publish in peer-reviewed journals.


  • Tau Beta Pi, Engineering Honor Society, Maine Alpha, 1974
  • Chi Epsilon, National Civil Engineering Honor Society, 1980
  • Presidential Young Investigator Award, National Science Foundation, 1984
  • Syracuse University Chancellor’s Citation for Academic Achievement, 1985
  • Syracuse University, College of Engineering, Anaren Microwave Award for Excellence in Engineering Scholarship, 1989
  • IBM Corporation Environmental Research Program Award, 1993
  • Institute of Scientific Information, Highly Cited Researcher for Engineering and Environmental Science, 2003-present
  • National Academy of Engineering, 2007-present
  • Syracuse University Excellence in Graduate Education Faculty Recognition Award, March 2007
  • Adirondack Research Consortium Lifetime Achievement Award, 2012

Select Publications and Reports:

Campbell, J.L., C.T. Driscoll, A. Pourmokhtarian, K. Hayhoe. 2011. Streamflow responses to past and projected future changes in climate at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, New Hampshire, USA. Water Resour. Res. 47, W02514 doi: 10.1029/2010WR009438, 15 pages.

Denkenberger, J.S., C.T. Driscoll, B.A. Branfireun, C.S. Eckley, M. Cohen, and P. Selvendiran. 2011. A synthesis of rates and controls on elemental mercury evasion in the Great Lakes Basin. Environ. Pollut. 161: 291-298 DOI:10.1016/j.envpol.2011.06.007.

Driscoll, C.T., K.F. Lambert, and K.C. Weathers. 2011. Integrating science and policy: A case study of the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation Science Links program. BioScience 61(10): 791-801.

Evers, D.C., J.G. Wiener, C.T. Driscoll, D.A. Gay, N. Basu, B.A. Monson, K.F. Lambert, H.A. Morrison, J.T. Morgan, K.A. Williams, and A.G. Soehl, 2011. Great Lakes Mercury Connections: The Extent and Effects of Mercury Pollution in the Great Lakes Region. Biodiversity Research Institute. Gorham, Maine. Report BRI 2011-18. 44 pages.

Sullivan, T.J., B.J. Cosby, C.T. Driscoll, T.C. McDonnell, A.T. Herlihy, and D.A. Burns. Target loads of atmospheric sulfur and nitrogen deposition for protection of acid sensitive aquatic resources in the Adirondack Mountains, New York, Water Resour. Res. 48, W01547 DOI:10.1029/2011WR011171, 16 pages.

Pourmokhtarian, A., C.T. Driscoll, J.L. Campbell, and K. Hayhoe. Modeling potential hydrochemical responses to climate change and increasing CO2 at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest using a dynamic biogeochemical model (PnET-BGC). Water Resour. Res. 48, W07514 DOI: 10.1029/2011WR011228, 13 pages.

Chen, C.Y., C.T. Driscoll, K.F. Lambert, R.P. Mason, L. Rardin, C.V. Schmitt, N.S. Serrell and E.M. Sunderland. 2012. Sources to Seafood: Mercury Pollution in the Marine Environment. Hanover, NH: Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program, Dartmouth College.

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