Rittmann honored as Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers

October 17, 2012


ASU Regents' Professor Bruce Rittmann

ASU Regents’ professor Bruce Rittmann will be honored as a “Distinguished Member” at the 2012 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Annual Meeting, “for exemplary advances to research and practice in environmental engineering, contributions to the technical literature, education of students, and professional leadership around the world.”

An ASCE Distinguished Member is a person who has attained acknowledged eminence in a branch of engineering or in the arts and sciences related thereto, including the fields of engineering education and construction.

Rittmann is a leading pioneer in developing microbial systems to capture renewable resources and alleviate environmental pollution. At ASU, Rittmann is a professor in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and directs the Biodesign Institute’s Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology, where his research combines microbiology, biochemistry, geochemistry and microbial ecology, for the purposes of restoring water purity and generating usable energy from waste products.

Rittmann is known for pioneering the development of biofilm fundamentals and contributing to their widespread use in the cleanup of contaminated waters, soils, and ecosystems. 

The membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR), a technology that Rittmann invented, uses naturally occurring microorganisms to remove contaminants such as perchlorate and tricloroethene from water.  He holds five patents on the technology, which is being commercialized by APTwater, Inc.

Rittmann is at the lead of ASU teams using two innovative approaches to renewable bioenergy:  using anaerobic microbes to convert biomass to useful energy forms, such as methane, hydrogen, or electricity; and using photosynthetic bacteria that can capture sunlight to produce new biomass that can be turned into liquid fuels, like diesel or jet fuel.

The links between microbes and human health also are being explored through a collaboration with the Mayo Clinic.  Rittmann’s group explores how microorganisms in the human intestine contribute to obesity, which may lead to means to regulate the microbial communities in ways that mitigate excessive weight gain.

Rittmann joins 10 others in the Class of 2012 Distinguished Members at the ASCE Annual Meeting in Montreal, Canada on Oct. 18-20. Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) represents more than 140,000 members of the civil engineering profession worldwide and is America's oldest national engineering society. 

Rittmann latest accolade add to his list of honors, which includes: an International Water Association Fellow, the Simon W. Freese Environmental Engineering Award, the Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize from ASCE, the University Scholar Award from the University of Illinois, and the Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation. Other notable achievements include the National Water Research Institute’s Clarke Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Water Science and Technology and ASU’s Faculty Achievement Award in Defining Edge Research, Natural Sciences/Math.

One of the world’s most cited researchers, according to the Institute for Scientific Information, Rittmann is a prolific author of over 500 books and professional papers. His textbook, Environmental Biotechnology: Principles and Applications, is used by universities around the world. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Watch a video about Rittmann's accomplishments.



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