Claudia K. Gunsch

Claudia K. Gunsch

Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Claudia Gunsch is the Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement, providing leadership in the area of faculty advancement, including providing support for faculty and academic units as they work to develop policies, programs, and practices in response to the recent campus climate survey. She plays a key role in developing strategies to strengthen Duke’s efforts to ensure an inclusive and respectful environment where faculty, students, and staff can thrive and excel.

Dr. Gunsch is the Theodore S. Kennedy Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and holds secondary appointments in the Nicholas School of the Environment and the Department of Biomedical Engineering. She has been recognized for her research, teaching and service activities with a number of awards, including the 2009 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award, 2013 Langford Lectureship Award, 2016 Capers and Marion McDonald Award for Excellence in Mentoring and Advising, and the 2016 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize. In addition, she was named a Bass Fellow in 2016. Dr. Gunsch earned her B.S. from Purdue University, her M.S. from Clemson University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Gunsch’s research focuses characterizing and engineering environmental microbiomes. Students and postdoctoral associates in her group apply fundamental concepts from the fields of microbiology, genomics and bioinformatics to environmental engineering applications. Current research projects focus on exploring ballast water microbiomes, exploring correlations between microbial adaptation and evolution stemming from their exposure to contaminants, characterizing the fate of genetically modified crop transgenes, developing genetic bioaugmentation technologies for improving the bioremediation efficacy of recalcitrant contaminants and developing innovative water treatment technologies for industrial and developing world applications.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Associate Dean for Research and Infrastructure in the Pratt School of Engineering
  • Associate Professor in the Division of Environmental Science and Policy
  • Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering
  • Faculty Network Member of The Energy Initiative

Contact Information


  • Ph.D. University of Texas, Austin, 2004
  • M.S. Clemson University, 2000
  • B.S. Purdue University, 1998

Research Interests

Identifying genetic adaptation mechanisms resulting from anthropogenic contaminant exposure; developing biosensors capable of pathogen and contaminant detection in water and air; studying the impact of emerging contaminants on aquatic microbial ecology; and the development of novel techniques for controlling pathogen proliferation

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program. National Science Foundation. 2009
  • NSF Graduate Fellowship. National Science Foundation. 1999

Courses Taught

  • BME 565L: Environmental Molecular Biotechnology (GE, MC)
  • CEE 493: Research Independent Study in Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • CEE 494: Research Independent Study in Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • CEE 566: Environmental Microbiology
  • CEE 661L: Environmental Molecular Biotechnology (GE, MC)
  • CEE 690: Advanced Topics in Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • CEE 691: Independent Study: Advanced Topics in Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • CEE 692: Independent Study: Advanced Topics in Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • EGR 79S: Thrive
  • ENVIRON 393: Research Independent Study
  • ENVIRON 899: Master's Project

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Welling, CM; Singleton, DR; Haase, SB; Browning, CH; Stoner, BR; Gunsch, CK; Grego, S, Predictive values of time-dense SARS-CoV-2 wastewater analysis in university campus buildings., The Science of the Total Environment, vol 835 (2022) [10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.155401] [abs].
  • Gardner, CM; Gerhard, WA; Redfern, LK; Gunsch, CK, Evaluation of developing maize microbiomes and associations among nitrogen cyclers and key fungal taxa., Microbiology, vol 168 no. 3 (2022) [10.1099/mic.0.001155] [abs].
  • Addis, SD; Formel, SK; Kim, YJ; Varner, PB; Raudabaugh, DB; Lefevre, E; Bernik, BM; Elango, V; Van Bael, SA; Pardue, JH; Gunsch, CK, Alterations of endophytic microbial community function in Spartina alterniflora as a result of crude oil exposure., Biodegradation, vol 33 no. 1 (2022), pp. 87-98 [10.1007/s10532-021-09968-5] [abs].
  • Volkoff, SJ; Rodriguez, DL; Singleton, DR; McCumber, AW; Aitken, MD; Stewart, JR; Gunsch, CK, Identifying bioaugmentation candidates for bioremediation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in contaminated estuarine sediment of the Elizabeth River, VA, USA., Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, vol 106 no. 4 (2022), pp. 1715-1727 [10.1007/s00253-021-11754-5] [abs].
  • Varner, PM; Gunsch, CK, Properties affecting transfer and expression of degradative plasmids for the purpose of bioremediation., Biodegradation, vol 32 no. 4 (2021), pp. 361-375 [10.1007/s10532-021-09950-1] [abs].