Civil and Environmental Engineering
Vallentine Annex (H22)
Scientia Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Executive Director and CEO, UNSW Centre for Transformational Environmental Technologies (CTET)
Scientia Professor David Waite, from the UNSW Water Research Centre and School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is a researcher of international standing who has made a significant contribution to the field of environmental chemistry over the last four decades. He has particular expertise in the behaviour of elements such as iron, manganese, copper, silver and uranium in natural and engineered systems. He has published over 350 peer-reviewed articles in a number of international scientific journals, and has been awarded over $16 million in research funding for his work on water quality and treatment technologies.
Professor Waite leads the Biogeochemical Engineering, Management and Systems (BioGEMS) research group that works to prevent environmental degradation and boost human health. The team of highly experienced researchers is involved in ARC Linkage and Discovery projects, projects with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and undertakes tailor-made commercial research for partners in industry. Professor Waite was recently appointed to the role of Executive Director and CEO of the UNSW Centre for Transformational Environmental Technologies (CTET).
Professor Waite is an inaugural Fellow of the PLuS Alliance, a collaboration between UNSW, King’s College London and Arizona State University. His research is supported by the Torch Innovation Precinct at UNSW, a $100 million innovation partnership with China, and he has won the prestigious Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) Environment Medal.
Professor Waite is a Fellow of both the Royal Australian Chemistry Institute (RACI) and the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK), is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales and a Foreign Member of the United States National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Professor Waite is an Associate Editor of the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science and Technology.
Interest in engineering
Why did you get into engineering?
I initially trained as a scientist but was keen to see knowledge applied to solve real world problems.
What excites you about environmental engineering?
Understanding how nature works allows us to develop solutions which are both appropriate and sustainable.
What are your research goals?
My aim is to undertake biogeochemical research which improves our understanding of natural aquatic systems and enables us to i) prevent environmental degradation and ii) develop appropriate solutions to challenges such as provision of water supply and improving human health.
What do people not understand about you do?
There are huge gaps in our understanding of the biogeochemical relationships in nature. Filing these knowledge gaps will both help prevent future environmental problems and assist in finding solutions for existing problems.
Principles and applications of aquatic chemistry
Water and wastewater treatment
Number currently in lab: 15 PhD students, 10 Research Fellows
Number graduated: 37 PhD graduates
Student Project Areas:
Factors influencing the growth, toxicity and succession of marine and freshwater algae
Development of nanoparticle-based technologies of use in water treatment
Optimising use of membrane-based technologies in water and wastewater treatment
Development and application of advanced oxidation processes in water and wastewater treatment
Interplay between redox active metals and reactive oxygen species in natural aquatic systems
Characterisation and transformations of iron oxides in natural and engineered aquatic systems
Looking for students for projects related to:
Degradation of contaminants using advanced oxidation processes
Role of iron and copper in influencing growth and toxicity of marine and freshwater algae
Generation and behaviour of reactive oxygen species in natural and engineered aquatic systems
Applications of nanoparticulates in water and wastewater treatment
Applications of electrochemical and membrane-baswed processes in water and wastewater treatment
Professional Organisations and Service Roles
Fellow, Royal Australian Chemical Institute
Member, American Chemical Society
Member, American Chemical Society
Member, Phycological Society of America
Member, American Geophysical Union
Member, International Water Association
Current Service Roles
Chairman, Interfaces Against Pollution International Conference Series, 2010-ongoing
Director, Australia China Consortium for Water Research (2006-ongoing)
Technical Expert, Environment & Water Research Programme, Environment & Water
Industry Development Council (EWI), Singapore (2006 – ongoing)
Oz-Reader, Australian Research Council (2005-ongoing)
Awards, Grants, Etc.
Scientia Professorship, UNSW (2011-2016)
Guest Professor, ETH-Zurich and Swiss Federal Institute for Aquatic Science and Technology, Zurich (2013)
Guest Professor, Harbin Institute of Technology (2009-ongoing)
CNRS Visiting Scholar, University of Aix-Marseilles III and University of Paul Sabatier, Toulouse (2006)
Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science Visiting Scholar Award (2005)
Fellow, Royal Australian Chemical Institute (1994)
Executive Director's Award for Outstanding Contributions to ANSTO (1990/91)
Current Research Grants
TD Waite, GL Leslie, J Guan, SJ Wilson, N Riethmuller, X Wang, PC Spencer; Innovative hybrid membrane-based pretreatment strategies for remote community groundwater supplies; ARC Linkage (LP130101107); 2013-2016; $720,000
TD Waite, M Wiesner; Reactive oxygen species generation by zerovalent silver nanoparticles; implications to toxicity and contaminant degradation; ARC Discovery (DP 120103222); 2012-2014; $360,000
TD Waite, AL Rose, RN Collins, G Waychunas; New perspectives on iron oxide transformations in oxic and anoxic aqueous environments: Implications for iron bioavailability and contaminant mobility; ARC Discovery (DP120103234); 2012-2014; $450,000