Andrea M. Dietrich, professor of environmental and water resources engineering, has been selected as the 2015 Distinguished Alumna for the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Dietrich earned her Ph.D. in 1987 from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, after earning a B.S. in Chemistry and Biology from Boston College and an M.S. in Environmental Science and Engineering from Drexel University.
Her areas of expertise are water quality, fate and transport of organic and inorganic chemicals, sensory analysis of environmental contaminants, odorants and tastants, and potable water infrastructure. She has authored over 130 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and technical reports.
When she isn’t teaching, engaged in interdisciplinary research, or active as the co-Director of Virginia Tech’s Water INTERface Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program, Dietrich serves as a consultant to industry for monitoring and identifying tastes and odors in drinking water. She is active in the International Water Association (IWA), American Water Works Association (AWWA), and the American Chemical Society (ACS). As past chairperson of the AWWA Taste and Odor Committee and chair of the IWA Specialist Group on Tastes, Odours, and Algal Toxins in the Sources of Water, she is active nationally and internationally to promote safe and palatable drinking water.
Among her many recognitions, Dietrich has been honored with the Civil and Environmental Alumni Teaching Excellence Award, American Water Works Associations Golden Spigot Award, Dean’s Excellence in Research Award, Visiting Scientist with NASA, and two Science, Technology, and Policy Fellowships from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Recently, Dietrich has been leading the charge to call for a critical review and rethinking of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s secondary standards for maintaining consumers’ confidence in tap water as well as in its sensory quality. Other research projects include the development of practical methods for sensory analysis, investigating sources and controls for tastes and odors in drinking water, using customer complaints as a predictor of drinking water quality, and fate and transport of chemical contaminants.
Dietrich will be honored on Friday, April 8 in Chapel Hill. In addition to receiving the award, she will be making a research presentation to the students, faculty, and staff titled Unthinkable and Undrinkable: Chemical Spills and Water Contamination.