Dr. Getachew’s research focuses on understanding the performance of “smart materials” in the context of water treatment technologies and systems. Smart materials, also called responsive materials, undergo significant physico-chemical changes in response to external stimuli. Their dynamic behavior can be used for sensing, actuating, self-healing, and controlled-release applications, among many others. Smart materials could play a role in enhancing the versatility and sustainability of water treatment technologies and systems but advances in the design and synthesis of such functional materials are currently focused on and driven by applications outside the environmental engineering field. Research in Dr. Getachew’s lab aims to 1) evaluate the performance of different kinds of smart materials in environmentally relevant conditions, 2) integrate them into water treatment technologies and assess their performance against state-of-the-art technologies, and 3) design new materials and composite structures to enable previously unavailable functionalities.