Jim Gawel, Ph.D.

Associate Professor ; Graduate Faculty

Specialty: Environment, Chemical and Environmental Engineering

Gawel, Jim

Contact information

Dept: Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
Room: SCI 216
Phone: 253-692-5815
Email: jimgawel@u.washington.edu
Schedule: Autumn 2013 office hours: Wednesdays, 10:00-11:00 a.m. & Thursdays, 3:00-4:00 p.m.


  • Ph.D., Environmental and Aquatic Chemistry, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1996.
  • B.S., Civil Engineering with Emphasis on Environmental Problems and Planning, Brown University, 1990.


Dr. Jim Gawel is Associate Professor of Environmental Chemistry and Engineering at the University of Washington Tacoma. Jim got his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Brown University with an emphasis in Environmental Problems and Planning, and his Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from MIT.

Jim has been teaching and doing research with undergraduates at UWT for 14 years, and headed the Environmental Science and Studies program here for 6 years. Jim began studying arsenic-contaminated urban lakes as a postdoctoral research associate at MIT, where he focused on arsenic mobility and limnology in contaminated Spy Pond in Arlington, MA. He has also been working actively to understand lake eutrophication, developing nutrient mass balance budgets for Spy Pond, Wapato Lake in Tacoma and Spirit Lake near Mount St. Helens. Jim is also the President of the Washington Lake Protection Association (WALPA), and has been working with WALPA to develop a state-wide volunteer lake monitoring program. Jim's other research interests include studying cellular bioindicators of metal stress in aquatic and terrestrial systems, making documentaries as public education and outreach tools to address water management issues, and improving undergraduate environmental science education.

In his spare time he teaches rock climbing for the Tacoma Mountaineers.

Jim believes strongly in undergraduate research as an important learning experience and a valid means of conducting scientific research. Student researchers working with him have presented their research on arsenic fate and transport in area lakes, metal stress in mussels in Puget Sound and in forests in Norway, harmful algae dynamics in Puget Sound, and more.

Jim teaches courses in environmental chemistry, pollutant fate and transport, limnology, public policy, and more. His courses stress hands-on participation, field and lab work and service learning.


My academic background is in the fields of environmental engineering and environmental chemistry. I teach courses in both of these areas, as well as other courses that examine environmental contamination and resource management in the larger social and political context. My research interests are broad and include the following:

  • The fate and transport of metal contaminants in terrestrial and aquatic systems;
  • Using bioindicator proteins in plants and animals to monitor physiological metal stress in the environment;
  • Urban water management issues related to anthropogenic influences; and
  • Environmental science education.


  • TIAS 305: Seminar in Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
  • TESC 200: Environmental Seminar
  • TESC 300: Introduction to Environmental Science (lab course)
  • TESC 303: Sustainable Development in Africa ñ Study Abroad (field course)
  • TESC 310: Environmental Research Seminar
  • TESC 333: Environmental Chemistry (lab course)
  • TESC 345: Pollution and Public Policy
  • TESC 347: Maritime History and Science in the Pacific Northwest
  • TESC 349: Research at Sea (field course)
  • TESC 410: Environmental Science Senior Seminar
  • TESC 433: Pollutant Fate and Transport in the Environment (lab course)
  • TESC 435: Limnology (field course)

Selected Publications

  • Cline, E.T., Q.T.N. Nguyen*, L. Rollins*, J.E. Gawel. 2012. Metal stress and decreased tree growth in response to biosolids application in greenhouse seedlings and in situ Douglas-fir stands. Environmental Pollution, 160: 139-144. (*undergraduates)
  • Horner, R.A., C.L. Greengrove, K.S. Davies-Vollum, J.E. Gawel, J.R. Postel, A. Cox. 2011. Spatial distribution of benthic cysts of Alexandrium catenella in surface sediments of Puget Sound, Washington, USA. Harmful Algae, 11: 96-105.
  • Gawel, J.E. 2011. Hydrology and Nutrient Budget for Wapato Lake, Tacoma, WA. Technical Report prepared for the City of Tacoma, Tacoma, WA, 24 pp.
  • Gawel, J.E., P. Lovelady, and T. Kapler. 2010. (documentary video) Water Undone: The Effort to Save the Puyallup River Watershed.
  • Senn, D.B., J.E. Gawel, J.A. Jay, H.F. Hemond, and J.L. Durant. 2007. Long-term fate of a pulse arsenic input to a eutrophic lake. Environmental Science and Technology, 41: 3062-3068.
  • Gawel, J.E., and C.L. Greengrove. 2005. Designing undergraduate research experiences for nontraditional student learning at sea. Journal of Geoscience Education, 53: 31-36.
  • Acker*, L., J.R. McMahan*, and J.E. Gawel. 2005. The effect of heavy metal pollution in aquatic environments on metallothionein production in Mytilus sp. Proceedings of the 2005 Puget Sound/Georgia Basin Research Conference, March 29-31, 2005, Seattle, Washington.
  • Gawel, J.E., and H.F. Hemond. 2004. Biomonitoring for metal contamination near two Superfund sites in Woburn, Massachusetts, using phytochelatins. Environmental Pollution, 131: 125-135.
  • Durant, J.L., T. Ivushkina, K. MacLaughlin, H. Lukacs*, J. Gawel, D. Senn, and H.F. Hemond. 2004. Elevated levels of arsenic in the sediments of an urban pond: sources, distribution and water quality impacts. Water Research, 38: 2989-3000.
  • Gawel, J.E., P. Lovelady*, S. Winch, and T. Kapler. 2004. (documentary video) Urban Water: Sustainability in the Balance.


  • Washington Lake Protection Association (WALPA),President
  • Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO)
  • Northwest Science Association
  • Sigma Xi
  • The Mountaineers - Climbing Programs, Chair
  • "Wake Up Wapato" Community Outreach and Education Events at Wapato Lake, Tacoma
  • Puget Sound Biomonitoring Project - with Lincoln High School and Tacoma's Science and Math Institute students (2010-present)

Professional Service

  • Washington Lake Protection Association (WALPA), President
  • Reviewer for Science of the Total Environment; Water, Air, Soil Pollution; Andean Geology; Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology; Environmental Science and Technology; Environmental Pollution; Atmospheric Environment; Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta; and Journal of Geoscience Education
  • MusselWatch Pilot Expansion Study - organization committee and volunteer coordinator for Commencement Bay study sites

Honors and Awards

  • 2013 E3 Washington Green Apple Award - College/University Formal Educator
  • 2010 U.S. Forest Service, Pacific NW Research Station award for new research at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
  • 2010 UW Husky Green Award - Environmental Science and Studies
  • 2010 UWT Distinguished Research Award Nominee
  • 2009 UW Undergraduate Research Mentor Award
  • 2006 University of Washington Bergen-Trondheim Faculty Exchange Program Award
  • 2005 UWT Distinguished Teaching Award Nominee
  • 2004 UW Brotman Award for Teaching Excellence - Environmental Science and Studies