Wayne State University

Aim Higher


Shawn McElmurry

Photo for Shawn McElmurry
Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
313-577-3876 (Phone)
Download Faculty Photo

While enjoying the outdoors I have observed changes to environmental systems, which have in turn motivated me to better understand how those systems function. As a result, I am interested in understanding the chemical processes relevant to environmental science and engineering.  

My research focuses on the fate and transport of pollutants in surface water systems and developing new methods and techniques for the detection, quantification and treatment of organic and inorganic constituents. Specific topics of interest include:

  • the influence of land use on surface water quality,
  • assessing the role dissolved organic carbon (DOC) plays in the transport and toxicity of trace metals and organic pollutants,
  • identifying mechanisms responsible for the sorption and desorption of chemical constituents from a wide range of surfaces,
  • assessing the behavior of emerging contaminants, and
  • developing new analytical techniques that can be used for micro-devices which will allow for real-time, in-situ measurement of chemical constituents.

These areas of research are integral to developing sustainable water resources, ensuring healthy fisheries, improving current water treatment technologies, and protecting public health.

My teaching interests extend from my research to include chemical dynamics and analytical methods relevant to environmental science and engineering. I believe in providing a student centered learning environment which promotes active participation from students and faculty. My teaching style is one which engages students, challenging them with exercises and experiments during lectures and in the laboratory. I utilize new technologies, such as chemical modeling software, as a means of connecting theoretical knowledge with practical examples.

Ph.D. Environmental Engineering, Michigan State University, 2008

M.S. Environmental Engineering, Michigan State University, 2002

B.S. Chemistry major, Central Michigan University, 1998

Michigan Professional Engineer License (#620105764)


Faust, K.M., Abraham, D.D., McElmurry, S.P. (2015) Sustainability of Water and Wastewater Infrastructure in Shrinking Cities. Public Works Management & Policy, 1-29. DOI: 10.1177/1087724X15606737

Caruso, J.A., Zhang, K., Schroeck, N.J., McElmurry, S.P. (2015) Petroleum Coke in the Urban Environment: A Review of Potential Health Effects. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 12, 6218-6231; DOI:10.3390/ijerph120606218

Zein, M., McElmurry, S.P., Kashian, D., Savolainen, P.T., Pitts, D. (2015) Toxic effects of combined stressors on Daphnia pulex: Interactions between diazinon, 4-nonylphenol, and wastewater. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. DOI: 10.1002/etc.2908

Wang, C., Miller, C.J., Nehrir, M.H., Sheppard, J.W., McElmurry, S.P. (in press) A Load Profile Management Integrated Power Dispatch Using a Newton-Like Particle Swarm Optimization Method. Water and Energy of Sustainable Computing. DOI: 10.1016/j.suscom.2014.10.001  

Abkenar, S.M.S., Stanely, S.D., Chase, D.V., Miller, C.J., McElmurry, S.P. (in press) Optimizing pumping system for sustainable water distribution network by using Genetic Algorithm. Sustainable Computing: Informatics and Systems. DOI: 10.1016/j.suscom.2014.09.003

Rogers, M.M., Xu, G., Miller, C.J., McElmurry, S.P., Shi, W., Wang, Y, Miller, S.S., Wang, C., Xu, CZ. (in press) HERO: A Smart-Phone Application for Location Based Emissions Estimates. Sustainable Computing: Informatics and Systems. DOI: 10.1016/j.suscom.2014.09.001

Yin, YJ, Tian, YJ, Tang, W, Li1, L, Song, LY, McElmurry, S.P. (2014) Production and characterization of high efficiency bioflocculant isolated from Klebsiella sp. ZZ-3. Bioresource Technology, 171, 336–342. DOI: 10.1016/j.biortech.2014.08.094

Pathirathna, P.; Samaranayake, S.; Atcherley, C.; Heien, M.; McElmurry, S.P.; Hashemi, P. (2014) Fast Voltammetry of Metals at Carbon-Fiber Microelectrodes: Copper Adsorption onto Activated Carbon aids Rapid Voltammetric Analysis. The Analyst. DOI: 10.1039/C4AN00937A

McElmurry, S.P., Long, D.T. and Voice, T.C. (2014) Stormwater Dissolved Organic Matter: Influence of Land Cover and Environmental Factors. Environmental Science & Technology, 48(1): 45-53.  doi: 10.1021/es402664t

Zein, M.A., McElmurry, S.P., Kashian, D., Savolainen, P.T., Pitts, D. (2014) Optical bioassay for measuring sub-lethal toxicity of insecticides in Daphnia pulex. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 33(1): 155-151. doi:10.1002/etc.2404

Howard, J.L., Dubay, B.R., McElmurry, S.P., Clemence, J., Daniels, W.L.  (2013) Tests of Sequential Extraction and Lead Bioaccessibility Analyses Using Urban Soils and Reference Materials. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution 224:1678, 1-13. doi: 10.1007/s11270-013-1678-y

Zahran, S., Mielke, H.W., McElmurry, S.P., Filippeli, G.M., Laidlaw, M.A.S., Taylor, M. (2013) Determining the relative importance of soil sample locations to predict risk of child lead exposure. Environment International, 60, 7-14. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2013.07.004

Yang, Y., Pathirathna, P., Siriwardena, T., McElmurry, S.P., Hashemi, P. (2013) Real-time Sub-second Voltammetric Analysis of Pb in Aqueous Environmental Samples. Analytical Chemistry, 85(15), 7535-7541. doi: 10.1021/ac401539f

Rogers, M., Wang, Y, Wang, C,McElmurry, S.P, Miller, C.J. (2013) Evaluation of a Rapid LMP-Based Approach for Calculating Marginal Unit Emissions. Applied Energy, 111, 812-820. doi: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2013.05.057

Bugdalski, L., Lemke, L.D., McElmurry, S.P. (2013) Spatial Variation of Soil Lead in an Urban Community Garden: Implications for Risk- Based Sampling. Risk Analysis doi: 10.1111/risa.12053

Zahran, S., Laidlaw, M.A.S., *McElmurry, S.P., Filippeli, G.M., Taylor, M. (2013) Linking Source and Effect: Re-suspended Soil Lead, Air Lead, and Children’s Blood Lead Levels in Detroit, Michigan. Environmental Science & Technology. doi: 10.1021/es303854c

Pathirathna P, Yang Y, Forzley K, McElmurry SP, Hashemi P.(2012). Fast-scan deposition-stripping voltammetry at carbon-fiber microelectrodes: real-time, subsecond, mercury free measurements of copper. Analytical Chemistry, 84(15):6298-302.doi:10.1021/ac301358r  

 Long,D.T.; Voice,T.C.; Niagolovaa,N.D.;McElmurry,S.P.(2012). Effects of human activities on karst groundwater geochemistry in a rural area in the Balkans.. Applied Geochemistry, 27(10), 1920–1931.doi:10.1016/j.apgeochem.2012.07.003  

 McElmurry, S.P., Voice, T.C. and Long, D.T. (2010). Simultaneous Quantification of Dissolved Organic Carbon Fractions and Copper Complexation Using Solid-Phase Extraction. Applied Geochemistry, 25(5), 650-660. doi:10.1016/j.apgeochem.2010.01.018  

 Shen, C., Phanikumar, M.S., Fong, T.T., Aslam, I., McElmurry, S.P., Molloy, S.L., Rose, J.B. (2008) Evaluating Bacteriophage P22 as a Tracer in a Complex Surface Water System: The Grand River, Michigan. Environmental Science & Technology, 42(7), 2426-2431. doi: 10.1021/es702317t

 Voice, T.C., McElmurry, S.P., Long, D.T., Ganev, V. and Petropoulos, E.A. (2006) Evaluation of the Hypothesis that Balkan Endemic Nephropathy is Caused by Drinking Water Exposure to Contaminants Leaching from Pliocene Coal Deposits.Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology 16, 515-524. doi: 10.1038/sj.jes.7500489

 Voice, T.C., Long, D.T., Radovanovic, Z., Atkins, J.L., McElmurry, S.P., Niagolova, N., Dimitrov, P., Petropoulos, E.A., Ganev, V. (2006) Critical evaluation of environmental exposure agents suspected in the etiology of Balkan Endemic Nephropathy.Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health 12(4), 369-386.

 Niagolova, N., McElmurry, S.P., Voice, T.C., Long, D.T., Petropoulos, E.A., Havezov, I., Chou, K. and Ganev, V. (2005) Nitrogen species in drinking water indicate potential exposure pathway for Balkan Endemic Nephropathy. Environmental Pollution 134(2), 229-237. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2004.08.003 


McElmurry, S.P. and Voice, T.C. (2004) Screening methodology for coal-derived organic contaminants in water. International Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry 84(4), 277-287. doi: 10.1080/0306730310001640438

Other Professional Experience

Urban Green Infrastructure: Barriers and Opportunities, presented at 11th Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference, sponsored by the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, and Broadcast Live on Detroit Public TV.

Secrets of the Earth: Mother Nature Reclaims Buildings premiered on the Weather Channel on October 27, 2014

Fox 2 News Headlines

Health Works Interview on My Fox Detroit - June 14, 2013

Awards and Honors

2013 ExCEEd New Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award, American Society of Civil Engineering

2012 Outstanding Faculty Service Award, Engineering Student and Faculty Board, College of Engineering, Wayne State University

  • July 8, 2015
    Shawn McElmurry,  was recently awarded the 2014 Outstanding Reviewer Award from the editor of the American Society of Civil Engineers Journal of Environmental Engineering. He was chosen from among hundreds of reviewers for this prestigious honor.


  • June 10, 2014
    Shawn McElmurry,  has received the 2013 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Journal of Environmental Engineering Outstanding Reviewer Award.

  • October 1, 2013
    Shawn McElmurry,  along with Professor Carol Miller, attended the International Joint Commission's (IJC) Great Lakes Triennial Meeting in Milwaukee, Wisc., in September. They attended as representatives of WSU's Urban Watershed Environmental Research Group, having worked on the Taking Action on Lake Erie (TAcLE) project for the bi-national governments. More here.

  • April 15, 2013
    Shawn McElmurry,  has been selected by the ASCE's Committee on Faculty Development as a recipient of the 2013 ExCEEd New Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award. He was selected from a large pool of highly talented candidates and was chosen due to his outstanding teaching record as a new faculty member, his contributions to the academic and surrounding community, and his proven commitment to education. He will be presented with a plaque during the Civil Engineering Division Banquet held June 25 at the ASEE annual conference in Atlanta.

  • March 8, 2013
    Shawn McElmurry,  will speak at the Great Lakes, Great Challenges Forum at Oakland University on March 14, 2013. His presentation is titled "Assessment of Best Management Practices to Reduce Phosphorus Loads."

  • April 24, 2012
    Shawn McElmurry,  assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, was honored at Wayne State University's Academic Recognition Luncheon, held on April 19 at St. Andrew's Hall. The luncheon recognized the 108 Warrior student-athletes who recorded at least a 3.5 grade-point average for the fall 2011 term. Civil and environmental engineering students Amelia Davis and Phil Swanson chose Prof. McElmurry as their favorite professor.

In the News
  • Shawn McElmurry was featured in an article on an eco-friendly redevelopment project at Lake St. Clair Metro Park. McElmurry is pictured with student Yousef Al-Hashem installing storm-water-monitoring equipment in a man-made pond to measure the effectiveness of new storm-water retention ponds.

    Read Article
  • Shawn McElmurry and his team were featured in an Environmental Monitor story titled "Scientists track greening of giant parking lot near Lake St. Clair."

    Read Article
  • Shawn McElmurry was featured by several news outlets for his research on detecting lead hotspots in urban gardens. To properly assess the risk of soil contamination in urban gardens, McElmurry and fellow Wayne State University researchers analyzed the lead content in soil across a local urban garden plot and evaluated the results of several sampling strategies, some of which failed to detect a lead "hotspot" in one corner of the plot.

    CBS Detroit

    FOX Detroit



    Michigan Citizen



    Science Daily

  • Shawn McElmurry was featured in a Newswise article for receiving the 2013 ExCEEd New Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award from the American Society of Civil Engineer's (ASCE) Committee on Faculty Development. The award honors new faculty members for their outstanding teaching records, contributions to the academic and surrounding communities, and proven commitment to education.

    Read Article
  • Shawn McElmurry was featured in a WDET-FM segment on lead contamination among children. A team of researchers led by McElmurry has confirmed that seasonal fluctuations in blood lead levels found in children in urban areas throughout the United States and elsewhere in the northern hemisphere are the result of resuspended dust contaminated with lead. The study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology was based on nine years of data on more than 367,000 children in Detroit. (link not available)

  • Shawn McElmurry was featured by various news outlets for his research on childhood blood lead levels in urban areas. McElmurry is part of an international that has conducted a nine-year study of more than 367,000 children in Detroit that supports the idea that a mysterious seasonal fluctuation in blood lead levels - observed in urban areas throughout the United States and elsewhere in the northern hemisphere - results from resuspended dust contaminated with lead.


    Macomb Daily

    News Medical (1)

    News Medical (2)

    Oakland Press

    Science Daily

    Science Newsline

  • Shawn McElmurry was featured in the Royal Oak Patch in an article titled "Study led by Royal Oak Researcher Addresses Seasonal Lead Levels in Kids."

    Read Article