Shawn McElmurry

Shawn McElmurry

Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Shawn McElmurry


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 urban 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,
  • evaluating the impact of decaying urban infrastructure on human health,
  • 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.

Research Projects

Water and Health Infrastructure Resilience and Learning (WHIRL) - Funded by the National Science Foundation (Award #1832692)


  • Sobeck, J.; Smith-Darden, J.; Hicks, M.; Kernsmith, P.; Kilgore, P.E.; Treemore-Spears, L.; McElmurry, S.P. (2020) Stress, Coping, Resilience and Trust during the Flint Water Crisis. Behavioral Medicine. 46(3-4) DOI: 10.1080/08964289.2020.1729085
  • Zahran, S.; Mushinski, D.; McElmurry, S.P.; Keyes, C. (2020) Water Lead Exposure Risk in Flint, Michigan after Switchback in Water Source: Implications for Lead Service Line Replacement Policy. Environmental Research. 181, 108928. DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2019.108928
  • Day, A.M.; O’Shay-Wallace, S.; Seeger, M.W.; McElmurry, S.P. (2019) Informational Sources, Social Media Use, and Race in Flint, Michigan’s Water Crisis. Communication Studies. DOI: 10.1080/10510974.2019.15675669
  • Zahran, S.; Iverson, T.; McElmurry, S. P.; Weiler, S.; Levitt, R. (2019). Hidden Costs of Blight and Arson in Detroit: Evidence From a Natural Experiment in Devil's Night. Ecological Economics, 157, 266-277. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2018.11.009
  • Zahran, S.; McElmurry, S.P.; Kilgore, P.; Mushinski, D.; Press, D.; Love, N.; Sadler, R.; Swanson, M.S. (2018) Assessment of the Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak in Flint, Michigan. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, February 201718679. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1718679115
  • Byrne, B.G.; McColm, S.; McElmurry, S.P.; Kilgore, P.E.; Sobeck, J.; Sadler, R.; Love, N.G.; Swanson, M.S. (2018) Prevalence of infection-competent serogroup 6 Legionella pneumophila within premise plumbing in Southeast Michigan. mBio. 9 (1), e00016-18. DOI:10.1128/mBio.00016-18
  • Zahran, S.; McElmurry, S.P., Sadler, R.C. (2017) Four Phases of the Flint Water Crisis: Evidence from Blood Lead Levels in Children. Environmental Research. 157, 160–172. DOI:10.1016/j.envres.2017.05.028
  • Zahran, S., Iverson, T., McElmurry, S.P., Weiler, S. (2017) The Effect of Leaded Aviation Gasoline on Blood Lead in Children. Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists. 4:2, 575-610 DOI: 10.1086/691686
  • Masten, S.J.; Davies, S.H.; McElmurry, S.P. (2016) Flint Water Crisis: What happened and why? Journal of American Water Works Association. 108:12, 22-34 DOI: 10.5942/jawwa.2016.108.0195
  • Pathirathna,P.,  Siriwardhane, T., McElmurry, S.P., Morgan, S.L., Hashemi, P. (2016) Fast voltammetry of metals at carbon-fiber microelectrodes: towards an online speciation sensor. Analyst. 141, 6432 – 6437 DOI: 10.1039/C6AN01807F
  • Siriwardhane, T., Sulkanen, A., Pathirathna, P., Tremonti, A., McElmurry, S.P., Hashemi, P. (2016) Voltammetric Characterization of Cu(II) Complexation in Real Time. Analytical Chemistry. 88 (15), 7603–7608. DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.6b01312
  • Watson, S., Miller, C.J., Wilhelm, S.W., Steffen, M., Depew, D., Carmichael, W., Boyer, G.L., Murray, M., McElmurry, S. P., Confesor, R., Richards, R.P., Charlton, C., Matisoff, G., Arhonditsis, G., Yerubandi, R. (2016) Lake Erie: Sentinel of Impairment and SOS for action. Harmful Algae. 253-219-4514. DOI: 10.1016/j.hal.2016.04.010
  • Song, L. Li, L.; Yang, S.; Lan, J.; He, H.; McElmurry, S.P.; Zhao, Y. Sulfamethoxazole, Tetracycline and Oxytetracycline and Related Antibiotic Resistance Genes in a Large-scale Landfill, China. (2016) Science of the Total Environment, 551, 9-15. DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.02.007
  • Gardner, Chris; Chambers, Lisa G; Chin, Yu-Ping; Filippelli, Gabriel M; Herndon, Elizabeth M; Long, David T; Lyons, W. Berry; Macpherson, Gwendolyn L; McElmurry, Shawn P; McLean, Colleen E; Moore, Joel; Moyer, Ryan P; Nezat, Carmen A; Soderberg, Keir; Teutsch, Nadya; Widom, Elisabeth (2016) Developing the scientific framework for urban geochemistry. Applied Geochemistry. 67,1-20 DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2016.01.005
  • 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

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

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


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 (#6201057641)

Courses taught by Shawn McElmurry

Fall Term 2024 (future)

Winter Term 2024

Fall Term 2023

Winter Term 2023

Fall Term 2022

Winter Term 2022

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