Jonathan O. (Josh) Sharp

Director, Hydrologic Science and Engineering Program
Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

josh-sharp-photo-1-e1562864772623-300x300 Jonathan SharpThere is a societal need to ensure access to a clean and reliable water supply in this country and globally. Our laboratory’s research is guided by the vision that nature-based treatment can be more sustainably and holistically integrated into water infrastructure to help achieve this goal. However, optimization of these systems necessitates an increased understanding of how microbial respiratory processes influence and are influenced by their environment. We approach this challenge by integrating the traditionally disparate fields of microbiology, geochemistry, and hydrology under the umbrella of environmental engineering and collaborate extensively with both academic and industrial partners. We in turn apply this perspective toward a more convergent understanding of treatment systems such as engineered wetlands, aquifer recharge, and riverbank filtration as well as toward a broader understanding of the drivers of ecosystem services relevant to water quality. This is achieved by integrating field observations and analyses with mechanistic laboratory experimentation. We are committed to an inclusive approach that translates these findings to address challenges across the Americas with a current focus on water resources in the arid, western United States and southern Peru.


Room: Coolbaugh 112 B
Phone: (303) 273-3473
Fax: (303) 273-3413


  • Postdoc, Ecole Polytechnique Fédéral (EPFL) Lausanne, Switzerland, 2006-08 
  • PhD, Civil & Environmental Engineering, U.C. Berkeley, 2006
  • MS, Civil & Environmental Engineering, U.C. Berkeley, 2001
  • BA, Geosciences, Princeton University, 1997

Honors and Awards

  • Colorado School of Mines Excellence in Research Award (2019)
  • Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Science (2018)
  • Blaustein Visiting Professorship at Stanford University (2018)
  • Emerging Investigator for Environ. Science: Processes and Impacts (2014) 
  • NSF Faculty Early Development (CAREER) Recipient (2011) 

Research Areas

Our research focuses on the ramifications of (micro)biological processes as they relate to water quality and reuse. Current and recent research projects include:

  • Biogeochemical cycling, contaminant attenuation, and engineering applications in treatment wetlands.
  • Implications of ecosystem disruption on terrestrial biogeochemical processes and water quality.
  • Microbial structure and function in natural and engineered water treatment systems.
  • Application of nature-inspired biological treatment systems toward impaired water supplies.

Teaching Interests

Directed inquiry of open-ended questions through research is an amazing way to learn, and our laboratory hosts undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate researchers who work together to achieve this goal. In addition, Professor Sharp instructs more formal courses at both the undergraduate (300) and graduate (500) levels. Where possible, this involves the incorporation of directed inquiry, collaborative learning and place-based projects to better achieve learning outcomes and student engagement. Recent courses include: 

  • CEEN 301: Fundamentals of Environmental Science and Engineering 
  • CEEN 330: Environmental Engineering Field Session (co-taught)
  • CEEN 562: Environmental Geomicrobiology 

Representative Recent Publications (Scholar Profile with Complete List)

  • Leonard L, Vanzin G, Garayburu-Caruso V, Lau S, Beutler C, Newman A, Mitch W, Stegen J, Williams K, Sharp J. (2022) Disinfection byproducts formed during drinking water treatment reveal an export control point for dissolved organic matter in a subalpine headwater stream. Water Research X.
  • Regis A, Vanneste J, Acker S, Martinez G, Quea J, Garcia V, Alejo F, Zea J, Krahenbuhl R, Vanzin G, Sharp J. (2022) Pressure-driven membrane processes for boron and arsenic removal: pH and synergistic effects. Desalination 522:115441.
  • Brady AR, Vega MA, Riddle KN, Peel HF, Lundeen EJ, Siegmund JG, Sharp JO. (2021) Biomat resilience to desiccation and flooding within a shallow, unit process open water engineered wetland. Water 13(6):815.
  • Scholes RC, Vega MA, Sharp JO, Sedlak DL (2021) Nitrate removal from reverse osmosis concentrate in pilot-scale open-water unit process wetlands. Environ Sci: Water Res Technol 7:650-61.
  • Li D, Sharp JO, Drewes J. (2020) Microbial genetic potential for xenobiotic metabolism increases with depth during biofiltration. Environ Sci: Processes Impacts. 22: 2058-2069 
  • Lewis TB, Garcia-Chevesich PA, Wildeman TR, Sharp JO. (2020) Changes in surface water quality from small-scale gold mining operations in the Surnamean rainforest. Toxicological & Environmental Chemistry. 102: 7–8, 334–355
  • Leonard LT, Mikkelson K, Hao Z, Brodie EL, Williams KH, Sharp JO. (2020) A comparison of lodgepole and spruce needle chemistry impacts on terrestrial biogeochemical processes during isolated decomposition. PeerJ 8:e9538
  • Regnery J, Li D, Lee J, Smits KM, Sharp, JO (2020) Hydrogeochemical and microbiological effects of simulated recharge and drying within a 2D meso-scale aquifer. Chemosphere. 241, 125116.
josh-sharp-word-bubble Jonathan Sharp