LTU professor joins UN University for two years

Associate Professor Hiroshan Hettiarachchi of Lawrence Tech’s Department of Civil Engineering is taking a leave from LTU at the conclusion of the fall semester for a two-year appointment at the United Nations University (UNU) campus in Dresden, Germany.

The United Nations University Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES) was established in 2012 in Dresden to conduct research on sustainable integrated management of water, soil, and waste using a nexus approach. Food security is a top priority for the United Nations, and this nexus approach deals with three major resources critical for food production, which also relates to providing a clean environment.

Hettiarachchi was appointed to the UN University team because of his background in waste management. As a geotechnical engineer, he has expertise in soils and foundations engineering in addition to engineering aspects of landfill design.

An integrated management approach has been tried individually in water, waste, and soil/land-use, but integrating all three is a new concept. Out of many environmental resources, these three are important due to its relevance to food security in the world. Hettiarachchi is one of five academics responsible for coordinating the research for this new approach, and he will be leading the research and educational efforts covering waste management aspects. “This is a new challenge for everyone because it is going to be the first ever PhD program to cover the water-soil-waste nexus,” he said.

The university system headquartered in Japan is the United Nations’ academic and research arm that focuses on top UN priorities. The 16 campuses around the world take advantage of nearby universities with strong research resources, such as the Technical University of Dresden. UNU only grants graduate degrees, and the new university in Dresden will only have a doctoral program.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in his native country of Sri Lanka, Hettiarachchi earned his PhD in geotechnical engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology in 2005. He joined the LTU faculty in January 2006.