TAMEST Member Profile: Danny Reible, Ph.D. (NAE), Texas Tech University

Carlos Roberto Jaén, M.D., Ph.D.

TAMEST Member Danny Reible, Ph.D. (NAE) is the Donovan Maddox Distinguished Engineering Chair and Paul Whitfield Horn Professor at Texas Tech University where he guided the development of the Maddox Environmental Engineering Research Center.

Dr. Reible’s own research leads both fundamental and applied efforts in the assessment and management of risks of hazardous substances, especially as they apply to contaminated sediments. Previously, he was the Bettie Margaret Smith Chair of Environmental Health Engineering and the Director of the Center for Research in Water Resources at the University of Texas in Austin.

Currently, Dr. Reible sits on the TAMEST Natural Hazards Summit planning committee, where he has helped guide the two-part summit programming. Ahead of Part II of the Natural Hazards Summit next month in Lubbock, TAMEST connected with Dr. Reible to learn more about his career, passions and need to convene on the impacts of natural disasters on our communities. 

Tell us a little about yourself and your work.

My work has been focused on the fate and behavior of contaminants in the natural environment.  

During my studies of chemical engineering, I was never particularly interested in chemical engineering “in boxes” but I did get excited about chemical engineering in the natural environment during graduate school.

My work has focused on contaminant transport and modeling, and the assessment and remediation of contamination in the environment. Much of the applications have been to legacy contaminants like PCBs, PAHs, and metal in sediments which are particularly challenging because you are often asking, “how do I know I have a problem and what can I feasibly do with miles of contaminated river bottom?” 

What makes you most passionate about your work?

I’m driven by the mere fact that we can’t control the environment to the extent that we can control human designed processes.

That challenge and that uncertainty drives all my work.

You currently sit on the TAMEST Natural Hazards Summit Planning Committee. Why is it so important to convene experts on this topic?

This is a perfect example of the challenge of engineering in natural environments. The key is how we manage it rather than control the environment.

We are largely limited to how we manage ourselves and our infrastructure in the face of uncertainty and natural variability in the environment. With climate change, these variations are even more extreme, so understanding how we can manage these extremes is critical to maintaining community function.

What do you hope individuals take away from this conversation?

I would hope that individuals leave with an interest and a better understanding of how engineering can be used to assess and manage natural environments to meet human needs.

Why do you continue to volunteer your time and expertise to TAMEST and its mission?

TAMEST is a unique organization that provides an opportunity for individuals whose engineering and scientific expertise has been recognized at the national level to meet and leverage that expertise for the state.

I am particularly interested in building a National Research Council-like capability within the state using that expertise. The Natural Hazards Summit and other past TAMEST critical issues summits are excellent examples.

What does being a member of TAMEST mean to you? 

TAMEST membership is an honor.

However, it is the connection that it provides to other similarly recognized scientists, engineers and physicians that provides a unique opportunity both for my own development and a chance to builder a stronger foundation for the state.

Why do you live and work in Texas?

I find Texas to be an exciting place to live and work where individuality is valued, and I am free to pursue my own goals and take advantage of abundant opportunity.  

I think Texas provides a rare combination of opportunity, freedom, flexibility and independence.

Register today: Part II of the Natural Hazards Summit: Responding to and Mitigating the Impacts will take place on May 16, 2022, in Lubbock, Texas. It is presented by the National Wind Institute (NWI) at Texas Tech University.

 

TAMEST The Academy of Medicine, Engineering & Science of Texas