Dr. Kebreab Ghebremichael - Director of Water Sustainability


Dr. Kebreab Ghebremichael
(813) 974-9061


Dr. Kebreab Ghebremichael is an Associate Professor 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. Current projects include NSF IRES, McCann, and Co-Cola Sustainability Heroes projects. 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 20 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 and has gained global experience in water resources, water and wastewater treatment challenges and solution through multiple international projects in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe.
Dr. Ghebremichael directs the Sustainable Water Concentration in the MA program in Global Sustainability and he served as the Director of the Office of Sustainability that helped USF achieve several national and international recognition. 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: The Key to Sustainability
    • The course develops the critical system thinking skills to solve sustainability challenges. It covers quantitative system analysis techniques including environmental impact assessment, life-cycle assessment, cost-benefit analysis and decision analysis.

  • IDS 6245 – Sustainable Water Resource Management: Doing More With Less
    • This course provides an overview of the challenges and strategies for sustainable water resource management for coordinated planning, development, and management of water resources. It will discuss technical, economic, legal and institutional frameworks.
    • This course is available on-campus and online.

  • 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 will also discuss 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 will use water resources planning tools to develop cost-effective plans based on individual and group project works.
    • This course is available on-campus and online.
    • Course number may differ from the USF Class Schedule Search.

  • 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 will focus on green infrastructure systems to provide stormwater management and flood protection; maintain healthy waters; provide multiple environmental benefits; and support sustainable communities.
    • This course is available on-campus and online.

  • IDS 4239 Introduction to Global Sustainability

    This is an undergraduate course certified as both 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).

  • Sustainability for Engineers

    This is capstone course for honors college students. The course examines the concept of sustainable engineering. It uses systems thinking to explore interdependencies in the three pillars of sustainability (social, economic, and environment), and develop engineering solutions driven by tradeoffs between these pillars. The course uses case studies to help define what a ‘sustainable engineering’ 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

  • McCann Project
  • Coca Cola Sustainability Super Heroes
Research Interests

• Biosand filtration
  • Onsite wastewater treatment
  • Natural materials for water purification
  • Integrated water resources management
Focus Areas
Biosand Filtration
Advance the design and performance of biosand filter. This research looks at significantly improving the performance of the conventional biosand filter and makes it a complete treatment system to remove not only the common contaminants (solids and pathogens) but also specific ones such as fluoride, arsenic and other metals. This research focuses on modifying the surface characteristics of the filter media (based on coating using aluminum oxide or iron oxide).

Natural Materials for Water Treatment
This research focuses on developing biomaterials or naturally available resources for water and wastewater treatment. It focuses on purifying the bio-coagulants from plant seeds for turbidity and pathogen removal and as a filter aid in sand filtration systems. The research on natural materials also looks at low-cost adsorbents form natural or waste resources for inorganic contaminants removal such as fluoride, arsenic, chromium.

Onsite Wastewater Treatment for Reuse
In the US about 25% of domestic wastewater is treated in onsite treatment systems (mainly septic tanks), which are not efficient at removing nitrogen and pathogens, making them a risk to public health and the environment. This research looks at developing new processes for effective nutrient and pathogen removal form onsite systems and maximize the reuse potential of wastewater locally.

Other Media and Links

View Dr. Gherbremichael CV/Vita Here.