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Brian A. Powell

Brian A. PowellProfessor
Fjeld Professor in Nuclear Environmental Engineering and Science
Rich Lab, 342 Computer Court
Anderson, SC 29625

Ph.D. Environmental Engineering and Science, Clemson University, 2004
M.S. Environmental Engineering and Science, Clemson University, 2001
B.S. Chemistry, University of Montevallo, 1999

Classes | Publications | Honors | CV

Faculty Overview

Dr. Brian A. Powell holds the Fjeld Professorship in Nuclear Environmental Engineering and Science and is jointly appointed in the Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences as well as the Department of Chemistry at Clemson University. Dr. Powell is also a joint appointee at the Savannah River National Laboratory with the objective of building research collaborations between Clemson and SRNL. He previously held postdoctoral appointments at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (2006-2008) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (2005-2006). He has a B.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Montevallo (1999), and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Environmental Engineering and Science from Clemson University (2001 M.S., 2004 Ph.D.). Dr. Powell returned to Clemson as an Assistant Professor in 2008 and was promoted to associate Professor in 2013 and Full Professor in 2016.

Dr. Powell’s research focuses on the treatment and storage of radioactive waste and the migration of heavy metals and radionuclides in the environment from natural or engineered systems. He has conducted sponsored research in a wide range of projects dealing with topics of environmental chemistry, radiochemistry, geochemical reaction modeling and thermodynamic database development, evaluation of nanoparticle behavior, subsurface migration of actinides and fission products, and related topics. These research projects have received over $22M in funding from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Nuclear Security Agency. The knowledge gained from this work can be used to evaluate risk to human and environmental health posed by environmental contamination by nuclear materials, to design remediation strategies for contaminated sites, and to facilitate the use of safe disposal practices. Dr. Powell has published over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, 2 book chapters, given over 200 technical presentations, and has graduated 15 Ph.D. students, 20 M.S. students, and advised 15 postdoctoral researchers. Based on this body of work, Dr. Powell was awarded the 2014 South Carolina Governor’s Young Researcher Award for Excellence in Scientific Research, a U.S. Department of Energy Early Career Research Award, and named the 2022 Clemson University Senior Researcher of the Year.

Dr. Powell has been committed to University service as a member of the Clemson Forward 2020 Phase I Research strategic planning committee, the Vice President for Research Advisory Board (2016-2020), and Faculty Senate from 2019-2022 including the roles of lead senator from the College of Engineering, Computing, and Applied Sciences (CECAS) from 2020-2022 and chair of the Senate Research Committee in 2021. Currently Dr. Powell serves as the Faculty Representative to the Clemson University Board of Trustees.

Class Information

For current syllabi, please search the Clemson University Syllabus Repository.

EES 8130 Environmental Radiation Measurements Laboratory
EES 8420 Environmental Actinide Chemistry
EES 8430 Environmental Chemistry
EES 8450 Environmental Organic Chemistry
GEOL 3180 Geochemistry

Selected Publications

Aragón, O.R., Pietri, E.S., Powell, B.A., 2023. Gender bias in teaching evaluations: the causal role of department gender composition. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 120, e2118466120. doi:10.1073/PNAS.2118466120/SUPPL_FILE/PNAS.2118466120.SAPP.PDF

Coutelot, F., Wheeler, J., Merino, N., Kaplan, D.I., Owings, S., Taillefert, M., Zavarin, M., Kersting, A.B., Powell, B.A., 2023. Temporal evolution of Pu and Cs sediment contamination in a seasonally stratified pond. Sci. Total Environ. 857, 159320. doi:10.1016/J.SCITOTENV.2022.159320

Donaher, S.E., Dunn, R.P., Gonzales, A.K., Wattier, B.D., Powell, B.A., Martinez, N.E., 2023. Tissue-Specific Toxicokinetics of Aqueous Radium-226 in an Estuarine Mussel, Geukensia demissa. Environ. Sci. Technol. 57, 3187–3197. doi:10.1021/ACS.EST.2C09421/ASSET/IMAGES/LARGE/ES2C09421_0005.JPEG

Fallon, C.M., Bower, W.R., Powell, B.A., Livens, F.R., Lyon, I.C., McNulty, A.E., Peruski, K., Mosselmans, J.F.W., Kaplan, D.I., Grolimund, D., Warnicke, P., Ferreira-Sanchez, D., Kauppi, M.S., Vettese, G.F., Shaw, S., Morris, K., Law, G.T.W., 2023. Vadose-zone alteration of metaschoepite and ceramic UO2 in Savannah River Site field lysimeters. Sci. Total Environ. 862, 160862. doi:10.1016/J.SCITOTENV.2022.160862

Ferguson, B.O., Murdoch, L.C., Trumm, M., Liu, F., Rao, A.M., Powell, B.A., 2022. Mechanisms and kinetics of citrate-promoted dissolution of a uranyl phosphate mineral. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 318, 247–262. doi:10.1016/J.GCA.2021.11.023

Fullmer, W.K., Bliznyuk, V.N., Seliman, A.F., Powell, B.A., Husson, S.M., DeVol, T.A., 2022. Hybrid extractive scintillator resin for simultaneous concentration and detection of plutonium from aqueous solutions. J. Environ. Radioact. 255, 107048. doi:10.1016/J.JENVRAD.2022.107048

Montgomery, D.A., Edayilam, N., Page, H., Sheriff, S.A., Tharayil, N., Powell, B.A., Martinez, N.E., 2023. Comparative uptake, translocation, and plant mediated transport of Tc-99, Cs-133, Np-237, and U-238 in Savannah River Site soil columns for the grass species Andropogon virginicus. Sci. Total Environ. 857, 159400. doi:10.1016/J.SCITOTENV.2022.159400

Parker, C.J., Kaplan, D.I., Seaman, J.C., Powell, B.A., 2022. Uranium partitioning from contaminated wetland soil to aqueous and suspended iron-floc phases: Implications of dynamic hydrologic conditions on contaminant release. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 318, 292–304. doi:10.1016/J.GCA.2021.11.034

Phillips, S.H., Donaher, S.E., Powell, B.A., Tharayil, N., Martinez, N.E., 2023. The Influence of Iron and Ligand Type on Plutonium Uptake in Two Strains of Hydroponically Grown Corn (Zea Mays). Health Phys. 124, 97–105. doi:10.1097/HP.0000000000001638

Santikari, V.P., Witmer, M., Murdoch, L.C., Kaplan, D.I., Powell, B.A., 2022. Leaching and transport of technetium from reducing cementitious waste forms in field lysimeters. Sci. Total Environ. 841, 156596. doi:10.1016/J.SCITOTENV.2022.156596

Tolmachev, S.Y., Auxier, J.D., Nilsson, M., Powell, B.A., Rucker, T.L., Sudowe, R., 2022. Radiochemistry and nuclear chemistry workforce in the United States. J. Appl. Clin. Med. Phys. 23. doi:10.1002/ACM2.13789


Awards & Honors

2022 Clemson University Class of ’39 Award Recipient

2022 Clemson University Senior Researcher of the Year

2021 College of Engineering, Computing, and Applied Science Researcher of the Year

2018 Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness, Fred C. Davidson Distinguished Scientist Award

2018 Inaugural Clemson University Research, Scholarship, and Academic Achievement Award

2018 McQueen Quattlebaum Award, Clemson University, College of Engineering, Computing, and Applied Science

2014 South Carolina Governor’s Young Researcher Award for Excellence in Scientific Research

2013 U.S. Department of Energy, Early Career Research Award