United States Air Force Academy

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Dr. Tom Phelan

Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

Thomas Phelan
Contact Information

(719) 333-2516



Doctor of Philosophy, Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich. (2004)

Master of Science, Engineering (Environmental Engineering), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich. (1997)

Bachelor of Science, Civil Engineering, Manhattan College, New York, N.Y. (1995)

Professional Registration:
Professional Engineer – Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Board Certified Environmental Engineer, American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists

Professional Experience

Associate Professor, Research Director, and Environmental Engineering Division Chief, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, U.S. Air Force Academy (2016-present)

Assistant Professor, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, U.S. Air Force Academy (2009-2016)

Project Engineer, Geosyntec Consultants, Inc., Massachusetts (2005-2009)

Adjunct Professor, Tufts University, Massachusetts (2006)

Postdoctoral Associate, Tufts University, Massachusetts (2004-2005)

Lecturer, University of Massachusetts–Boston (2005)

Graduate Student, University of Michigan (1995-2003)

Graduate Student Research Assistant (Fall 1995 – Summer 1996, Winter 1997 – Summer 1997, Winter 1998 – December 2003)

Graduate Student Instructor (Fall 1996, Fall 1997)

Research and Scholarly Interests

Modeling of fate and transport of subsurface contaminants

Fate and transport of perflourinated compounds in the subsurface

Humanitarian engineering

Engineering education


Phelan, T. J., L. M. Abriola, J. L. Gibson, K. M. Smits, and J. A. Christ, Development and application of a screening model for evaluating bioenhanced dissolution in DNAPL source zones, Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 183, 115, doi: 10.1016/j.conhyd.2015.10.001. (2015)

Christ, J., J. Heiderscheidt, M. Pickenpaugh, T. Phelan, J. Pocock, S. Stanford, G. Seely, P. Suermann, and T. Twesme, Incorporating Sustainability and Green Engineering into a Constrained Civil Engineering Curriculum, Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice, doi: 10.1061/(ASCE)EI.1943-5541.0000226 , C4014004. (2014)

Li, Y., L. M. Abriola, T.J. Phelan, C. A. Ramsburg, and K. D. 2007, Pennell, Experimental and Numerical Validation of the Total Trapping Number for Prediction of Entrapped DNAPL Mobilization, Environmental Science and Technology, 41(23), pp. 8135-814: 10.1021/es070834i. (2007)

O’Carroll, D. M., T. J. Phelan and L. M. Abriola, Exploring dynamic effects in capillary pressure in multistep outflow experiments, Water Resources Research, 41, W11419, doi:10.1029/2005WR004010. (2005)

Abriola, L. M., A. H. Demond, D. M. O'Carroll, H.-L. Hsu, T. J. Phelan, C. A. Polityka, and J. L. Ryder, Compositional Effects on Interfacial Properties in Contaminated Systems: Implications for Organic Liquid Migration and Recovery, in Subsurface Contamination Remediation: Accomplishments of the Environmental Management Science Program, T. Zachry and E. Berkey, editors. American Chemical Society. (2005)

Phelan, T. J., L. D. Lemke, S. A. Bradford, D. M. O'Carroll and L. M. Abriola, Influence of textural and wettability variations on predictions of DNAPL persistence and plume development in saturated porous media, Advances in Water Resources, 27(4), 411-427, doi: 10.1016/j.advwatres.2004.02.011. (2004)

Abriola, L. M., D. M. O’Carroll, S. A. Bradford, and T. J. Phelan, Compositional effects on interfacial properties in contaminated systems: implications for organic liquid migration and recovery, Developments in Water Science, 47(1), 795-802, doi: 10.1016/S0167-5648(02)80143-5. (2002)

Bradford, S. A., T. J. Phelan and L. M. Abriola, Dissolution of residual tetrachloroethylene in fractional wettability porous media: Correlation development and application, Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 45(1-2), 35-61, doi: 10.1016/S0169-7722(00)001118-2. (2002)