Dr. Domenico Grasso is Professor of Engineering and Policy and Quondam Provost of University of Delaware, and the Chancellor-elect of University of Michigan – Dearborn. Previously he was Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate College at the University of Vermont and earlier Dean of the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences at UVM. Prior to joining UVM, Dr. Grasso was Rosemary Bradford Hewlett Professor and Founding Director of the Picker Engineering Program at Smith College, the first engineering program at a women’s college and one of the few in a liberal arts college in the United States; and Professor and Head of Department in Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Grasso holds engineering degrees from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (B.Sc.), Purdue University (M.S.) and The University of Michigan (Ph.D.). He is a Diplomate of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers, and has been a registered Professional Engineer in the states of Connecticut and Texas.
As an environmental engineer, Dr. Grasso’s research focuses on molecular scale processes that govern the ultimate fate of contaminants in the environment and development of new techniques to reduce risks to human health and natural resources. His work has been supported by federal, state and industrial organizations. Dr. Grasso has been a Visiting Scholar at UC-Berkeley, a NATO-CCMS Fellow, and an Invited Technical Expert to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization in Vienna Austria. In addition, he has served as Vice Chair of the Science Advisory Board for the United States Environmental Protection Agency; President of the Association of Environmental Engineering & Science Professors; and Associate Editor of Reviews in Environmental Science and Biotechnology. Current Editor-in-Chief of the journal Environmental Engineering Science, Dr. Grasso, himself, has authored more than 100 journal papers and reports, four chapters and three books; his publications have been cited extensively. He is currently Chair of the National Academies Committee on Grand Challenges in Environmental Science and Engineering.
A long time proponent of environmentally-sound and sustainable practice in engineering, Dr. Grasso was a member on a World Bank funded international team of scholars that established the first environmental engineering program in Argentina. The Water Environment Federation has named him a “Pioneer in Disinfection.” He chaired a U.S. Congressional briefing entitled “Genomes & Nanotechnology: The Future of Environmental Research” and was invited to address the Congress of the Republic of Peru on the topic of sustainable development. Dr. Grasso currently serves on Olin College and MIT advisory boards, and has previously served on advisory boards at Colgate, Tufts, Johns Hopkins, Notre Dame, WPI, and the National Academy of Engineering.
Dr. Grasso is also a passionate advocate for holistic STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. He views engineering as a bridge between science and humanity and particularly well suited for study in liberal arts educational environments. Many of his writings have reasoned for the importance of the humanities, social sciences and the arts in better contextualizing the societal relevance of STEM education. Dr. Grasso’s forward-thinking and well-received book Holistic Engineering Education: Beyond Technology (Springer 2010, over 34,000 downloads) explores new paradigms for 21st century engineering education. His classes, although technically rigorous, also address societal, ethical and philosophical issues facing engineers and scientists. Dr. Grasso’s undergraduate course introducing engineering to non-majors, Ancient Inventions, was featured by the National Science Foundation on its Science 360 Video website and has over 21,000 views. He was also co-founder along with Dr. Sally Ride, the first American women astronaut, of TOY Challenge, a national toy design challenge for 5th-8th graders to excite them about science, engineering, and the design process in a fun, creative, collaborative process, relevant to everyday life.