Dr. Kebreab Ghebremichael - Director of Water Sustainability

 Kebreab Ghebremichael, PhD
Kebreab Ghebremichael, PhD

Title: Professor of Instruction
CV:  View CV
Phone: (813) 974-9061
Email: kebreab@usf.edu


Dr. Kebreab Ghebremichael is Professor of Instruction at the Patel College of Global Sustainability and has a courtesy appointment at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at USF. Recently he received the Global Achievement Award at USF and a prestigious Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship award for education and research project. He worked in a number of national and international projects as a PI and Co-PI. He is involved in projects such as the International Research Experience for Students (IRES) on the topic of Water Sanitation and Hygiene in Ghana, IRES project on Water Quality Implications of Onsite Sanitation and Sea Level Rise in Coastal Communities, Life Cycle Assessment of Shopping Bags, and Greenhouse Gas Inventory and projection for the State of Florida. His expertise is in water and wastewater treatment, particularly in the development of low cost and appropriate technologies. Dr. Ghebremichael has published one book, 4 book chapters, and more than 30 peer-reviewed journal papers. He has more than 20 years of teaching and research experience, developed and taught several graduate and undergraduate courses in sustainability and Civil and Environmental Engineering subjects. He supervised several Ph.D. and MS students. Before joining USF, Dr. Ghebremichael worked at UNESCO-IHE (prestigious institute for water education) in the Netherlands and in Eritrea. He has extensive global experience in water resources, water and wastewater treatment challenges and solution through his engagement in multiple international projects in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe.

Dr. Ghebremichael directs the Water Sustainability Concentration and has mentored and supervised several students for their capstone internship and research projects. In the past he also served as the Director of the Office of Sustainability that helped USF achieve several national and international accolades. He holds a Ph.D. in Water Resources Engineering from the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden and an MSc in Water Engineering from the University of New South Wales in Australia.

  • IDS 6234 – Systems Thinking: Key to Sustainability (3)
    The course develops the critical system thinking skills to solve sustainability challenges. It covers quantitative system analysis techniques including Food-energy-water nexus, environmental impact assessment, life-cycle assessment, footprint analysis and decision analysis. The course is offered both in online and in person formats. 

  • IDS 6245 – Sustainable Water Resource Management: Doing More With Less (3)
    This course provides an overview of the challenges and strategies for sustainable water resource management for coordinated planning, development, and management of water resources at local, regional and global scales. It discusses technical, economic, legal and institutional frameworks. The course is offered both in online and in person formats.
  • IDS 6248 - Water Resources Planning (3)
    This course provides an overview of water resources planning and introduces students to some of the tools used in water resources planning and management. It also discusses water quality issues as well as water and wastewater treatment technologies that are important to improve water quality in closing the water cycle loop. Students use water resources planning tools to develop watershed plans and water supply projections based on individual and group project works. The course is offered both in online and in person formats
  • IDS 6246 - Water Sensitive Urban Design for sustainable communities (3)
    Cities around the world are facing the challenges of addressing water scarcity, flooding, and waterway health vulnerabilities. It is now well accepted that these issues cannot be adequately addressed by the traditional urban water development approach. In response, new thinking of Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) and Green Infrastructure Planning has become prominent. This course provides methodologies to bring natural processes into the built environment, and to enable the adoption of water sensitive planning and design principles in support of cities making the transition towards livable, sustainable, and resilient water futures. It focuses on green infrastructure systems to provide stormwater management and flood protection; maintain healthy waters; provide multiple environmental benefits; and support sustainable communities. The course is online in the summer semester.
  • IDS 2231 Introduction to Global Sustainability (3)
    This is an undergraduate course certified both for Enhance General Education (Gen Ed) and Global Citizens Project (GCP). The course introduces students to the theory and practices of sustainability. It discusses the three pillars of sustainability: maintaining environmental health, creating economic welfare, and ensuring social justice. As sustainability spans across disciplines, the course includes discussions of multidisciplinary content to elaborate sustainability from different perspectives (humanities, natural sciences and social sciences). The course is available both in online and in person formats but it is currently offered in one format depending the demand from summer ACE
  • IDH 4950 Honors Capstone Course (3)
    The course uses the concept and practice of systems thinking to explore interdependencies in the three pillars of sustainability (social, economic, and environment), and develop solutions driven by tradeoffs between these pillars. The course uses case studies to help define what a sustainable project is. This course then uses social science field methods to demonstrate how engineers can develop culturally appropriate projects by engaging community members/organizations throughout a project’s lifecycle. The course provides students an in-depth engagement with colleagues and peers through group project. 
Globally close to 1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water and more than 2.6 billion lack appropriate sanitation, mostly in developing countries. This has led to widespread challenges of public health and environmental pollution. Our research focuses on the development of appropriate and low-cost technologies relevant to communities that do not have direct access to municipal services.
Research Projects
Current Projects:
Past Projects:
  • NSF-IRES - Water Sanitation and Hygiene (Funding-NSF)
  • NSF IRES Understanding and conceptualizing threats and solutions of onsite sanitation and sea level rise on coastal groundwater resources (Funding-NSF)
  • Getting to carbon neutral in the State of Florida (Funding-Environment Defense Fund)
  • Life cycle assessment of shopping bags (Funding-Publix)
Research Interests
  • Biosand filtration
  • Resiliency of water supply systems in the face of climate change
  • Analysis of GHG emissions at local, regional, and state levels
Focus Areas
  • Biosand Filtration
    Advance the design and performance of biosand filter. This research looks at improving the performance of the conventional biosand filter and making it a complete treatment system to remove multiple contaminants such as turbidity, pathogens, fluoride, arsenic and other dissolved pollutants. This research focuses on modifying the surface characteristics of the filter media (based on coating of the media by using aluminum oxide or iron oxide).
  • Natural Materials for Water Treatment
    This research focuses in the understanding of the impact of climate change on water supply systems in terms of quantity and quality. Variabilities in precipitation and expected temperature increase will impact availability of sufficient supply of water and quality of water sources, performance of treatment plants and water quality in the distribution system. This research considers some case studies in the Tampa Bay area to understand the challenges and develop recommendations for robust planning.
  • Onsite Wastewater Treatment for Reuse
    Under this research area we develop inventories and projections of GHG emissions at city, County and State levels. We also develop technical and policy recommendations to achieve GHG reduction targets. Recently we completed a GHG report for the State of Florida, Dunedin City and manatee County. These projects involved students from PCGS and other universities in Florida.

Other Media and Links

Interview on WMNF 88.5 Radio show – Tampa Sustainable Living (October 10th 2022, 11:05 am) 

Dr. Ghebremichael – Clean Air Tampa Bay: Priority Clite Action Plan https://www.epa.gov/system/files/documents/2024-02/tampastpeteclw-msa-pcap.pdf

Dr. Ghebremichael – Association of Eritrean Studies. October 14, 2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F45mB48tPJ0

Dr. Ghebremichael – Association of American Universities, WTSP Tampa Bay 10 March 2024 https://www.aau.edu/research-scholarship/featured-research-topics/usf-helping-develop-comprehensive-plan-reduce ; https://www.wtsp.com/article/news/regional/usf-greenhouse-gas-emissions/67-90dd7d1f-5d8c-4b28-8999-bf4d23e56775

Ghebremichael, K. Open per review on Qeios,  Review of Chipatiso, E. Examining Water Use and Sanitation Practices in Rural Schools of Chegutu District, Mashonaland West Province, Zimbabwe, https://doi.org/10.32388/R8UYCN. October 2023. https://www.qeios.com/read/R8UYCN

Research Articles and Publications

  • Vicario, E., Ortiz, R., Acheaw Owusu, K., Feldman, A., Ghebremichael, K., & Ergas, S. J. (2024). Engaging Students in Waste-to-Energy Research Using Model Biodigesters. The Science Teacher, 91(1), 22–30. https://doi.org/10.1080/00368555.2023.2292331


  • Dr. Ghebremichael - IRES TRACK 1: US-Ghana Student Research Experience: Understanding and conceptualizing threats and solutions of onsite sanitation and sea level rise on coastal groundwater resources. National Science Foundation, $291,818.