Spotlight: Clarke Prize Laureate Dr. Perry McCarty


Reprinted from National Water Research Institute (NWRI)

To continue our celebration of the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Clarke Prize Award, NWRI is pleased to showcase Laureate Dr. Perry McCarty, who won the award in 1997 for his research in environmental biotechnology.  McCarty is the Silas H. Palmer Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Emeritus at Stanford University, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in civil and environmental engineering.


A prolific writer, McCarty has published a number of books, reports, and journal articles that have profoundly contributed to the field of environmental engineering over the last six decades.  His work is so renowned that an engineering award was named after him.  The Perry L. McCarty AEESP Founders Award is given annually “to professors who have made significant contributions to environmental engineering education, research, and practice,” said McCarty.  “AEESP’s inclusion of my name with the award is indeed an honor.”


McCarty also is the recipient of another prestigious honor: the Stockholm Water Prize.  The conference that accompanies the award ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, focuses on severe water issues in developing countries, a topic that McCarty feels needs to receive more attention.


McCarty’s current research focuses on environmental biotechnology.  For example, at World Class University in Korea, McCarty studied anaerobic treatments of wastewater, a process that produces energy rather than consumes it.  McCarty and a former student studied whether anaerobic treatment could be done efficiently with less concentrated domestic waters and at colder temperatures.  Using membrane bioreactors, they demonstrated the feasibility of this process at pilot scale.  McCarty is currently developing this process further using a new pilot system in operation at Stanford.  “This is all very exciting to me, making it difficult to find time to fully retire!”


To read McCarty’s Clarke Prize Lecture, titled “Learning and Listening About Water,” visit