2021 Foundation Professor Krishna Pagilla

Krishna Pagilla was recruited to the University in 2015 to direct the environmental engineering program in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. In the six years since, he has helped grow the University’s prominence in the field of water engineering and science, and he became the chair of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, the holder of the Ralph E. and Rose A. Hoeper Endowed Professorship in Engineering and the director of the Nevada Water Innovation Institute.

“My efforts have always been balancing between teaching, research and community engagement. Many of our projects are working with community partners like City of Reno, City of Sparks, Washoe County, Truckee Meadows Water Authority, Nevada Department of Transportation and other agencies in the region,” Pagilla explained. “I’m also engaged in a lot of research. For example, right now, I am leading the study for the region on COVID-19 monitoring through wastewater.”

Pagilla says the University’s already-established expertise and tools in cleaning water allowed faculty and student researchers to quickly pivot at the start of the pandemic — becoming one of the first in the country to measure COVID-19 cases through wastewater testing. This greater understanding of community prevalence was especially important at the start of the pandemic, when access to testing was limited.

Alongside studies like this, Pagilla says he is very proud of the collaborative work being led by the Nevada Water Innovation Institute. “We can showcase or leverage these regional projects for nationally competitive grants from the National Science Foundation, the EPA and The Water Research Foundation; and since founding the [Nevada Water Innovation] Institute in 2017, we’ve been able to get millions of dollars in funding for leading-edge research as well as applied research to solve the problems of the region. That has enabled us to be a leader in the nation, sharing our experience with others nationwide about how we built this relationship with multiple local agencies. I am also excited to share that we are hosting an international conference right here in Reno on leading-edge technologies for water and wastewater in 2022 which further highlights our international reputation.”

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