Lashun Thomas is the program coordinator for the Environmental Engineering (ENVE) program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR).
The ENVE program at UALR is the only undergraduate program in the state of Arkansas and one of 70 in the United States.
“I am one of the few women of color here in the US that oversee such programs,” Dr. Thomas said.
She earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and Master’s of Engineering from Tennessee State University in 2004 and 2006, respectively. Then she received her doctoral degree in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2011.
“My research interests are aimed at better understanding the fate and transport of contaminants in groundwater systems,” she said.
Prior to joining the faculty in the Department of Construction Management & Civil and Construction Engineering at UALR during the fall of 2014, she was an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Syracuse University, New York. Before that worked as a hydrologist for five years with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
The USGS serves the nation by providing reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters, manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and enhance and protect our quality of life.
According to the Environmental Science organization, the employment outlook for environmental engineers is excellent. The field is projected to grow 15% from 2012 to 2022, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Some growth will be fueled by the need for water reclamation projects that increase water supplies, especially in Western states. Concerns about industrial wastewater, particularly from fracking for natural gas, will also drive growth in this area. Retirements will also open up future positions. Those with master’s degrees will have the best opportunities to fill vacancies.
“I grew up on a farm in a low-income and socio-economically depressed area in Arkansas and attended a high school graduating class of less than 40 students,” Dr. Thomas said.
“Since a very early age, I have always had a keen interest in improving water quality. Through my research efforts, I have the opportunity to be involved in environmental projects that have addressed a wide range of groundwater contamination concerns at sites across the country. I strongly encourage students interested in groundwater research to contact me to discuss available positions in my lab.”
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