Professor and Chair, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Bernard M Gordon Senior Faculty Fellow
Tufts University School of Engineering
Dr. Pennell is a member of the environmental health (EH) and Environmental and Water Resources Engineering (EWRE) research groups in CEE and is an investigator in the Integrated Multiphase Environmental Systems Laboratory (IMPES) at Tufts University and the Parkinson's Disease Collaborative Environmental Research Center (PD-CERC) at Emory University. The IMPES lab is a highly collaborative setting where laboratory experiments and mathematical models are combined to elucidate and explore processes which influence the persistence of contaminants and control the effectiveness of remediation in the subsurface environment. Research activities of the PD-CERC focus on determining environmental contaminants that alter storage of the neurotransmitter dopamine, determining how mitochondria respond to injury, and developing metabolic biomarkers of chemical exposures and PD.
Dr. Pennell was one of several authors serving on the Committee of Future Options for Management in the Nation's Subsurface Remediation Effort that recently published "Alternatives for Managing the Nation's Complex Contaminated Groundwater Sites" by the National Academies Press. The report estimates that at least 126,000 sites across the United States still have contaminated groundwater, and their closure is expected to cost at least $110 billion to $127 billion. About 10 percent of these sites are considered "complex," meaning restoration is unlikely to be achieved in the next 50 to 100 years due to technological limitations. At sites where contaminant concentrations have plateaued at levels above cleanup goals despite active efforts, the report recommends evaluating whether the sites should transition to long-term management, where risks would be monitored and harmful exposures prevented, but at reduced costs.