Jonathan O. (Josh) Sharp

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

Professor Sharp’s research group derives inspiration from nature to inform the design of water treatment infrastructure and understand the interplay of biogeochemical processes on water quality in both engineered and natural systems. The research is grounded in a multidisciplinary approach that combines microbiological, molecular and geochemical tools to address questions important to the disciplines of environmental engineering and hydrology.


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) 
  • U.C. Toxic Substances Research & Teaching Graduate Fellowship (2000 – 2002) 
  • Joseph R. Hyde Graduate Fellowship Recipient  (1999 – 2000) 

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:

  • Fundamental 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 naturally inspired biological treatment systems toward impaired water supplies.

Teaching Interests

Professor Sharp teaches 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 

Select Publications (Scholar Profile with Complete List)

  • Li D, Drewes J, Sharp JO. (2020) Microbial genetic potential for xenobiotic metabolism increases with depth during biofiltration. In Press: Environ Sci: Processes Impacts
  • 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.
  • Jones ZL, Mikkelson KM, Nygren S, Sedlak DL, Sharp JO. (2018) Establishment and convergence of the photosynthetic microbial biomats in shallow unit process open-water wetlands. Water Research. 133, 132-141.
  • Moradi A, Smits KM, Sharp JO> (2018) Coupled thermally-enhanced bioremediation and renewable energy storage system: conceptual framework and modeling investigation. Water. 10(10), 1288. doi:10.3390/w10101288
  • Mikkelson, Brouillard, Bokman, Sharp. (2017) Ecosystem resilience and limitations revealed by soil bacterial community dynamics in a bark beetle-impacted forest. MBio 8:6 e01305-17.
  • Brouillard, Bokman, Mikkelson, Sharp. (2017) Extent of tree mortality influences compensatory biogeochemical responses in bark beetle infested mountain pine forests. Soil Biol Biogeochem 114:309-18.
  • Jones ZL, Jasper JT, Sedlak DL, Sharp JO. (2017) Sulfide-induced dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium facilitates anammox in an open water unit process wetland. Appl Environ Microbio 83:15 e00782-17.
  • Drennan DM, Almstrand R, Ladderud J, Lee I, Landkamer L, Figueroa L, Sharp JO. (2017) Spatial effects of inorganic ligand availability and localized microbial community structure on mitigation of mining influenced water in sulfate-reducing bioreactors. Water Research 115:50-59.
  • Li D, Stanford B, Dickenson E, Khunjar W, Homme C, Rosenfeldt EJ, Sharp JO. (2017) Effect of advanced oxidation on n-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) formation and microbial ecology during pilot-scale biological activated carbon filtration. Water Research. 113:160-70.
  • Weathers TS, Harding-Marjanovic K, Higgins CP, Alvarez-Cohen L, Sharp JO (2016). Perfluoralkyl acids inhibit reductive dechlorination of tricholorethene by repressing Dehalococcoides. Environ Sci Technol. 50(1) 240-48.
  • Drennan DM, Almstrand R, Lee I, Landkamer L, Figueroa L, Sharp JO (2016). Organoheterotrophic bacterial abundance associates with zinc removal in lignocellulose-based sulfate-reducing systems. Environ Sci Technol. 50(1): 378-87.
  • Li D, Sharp JO, Drewes JE (2016). Influence of wastewater discharge on the metabolic potential of the microbial community in river sediments. Microb Ecol. 71:78-86.
  • Weathers TS, Higgins CP, Sharp JO (2015) Enhanced biofilm production by a toluene-degrading Rhodococcus observed after exposure to perfluoralkyl acids. Environ Sci Technol. 49(9): 5458-66.
  • Jasper JT, Jones ZL, Sharp JO, Sedlak DL. (2014) Biotransformation of trace organic contaminants in open-water unit process treatment wetlands. Environ Sci Technol. 48(9): 5136-44.
  • Mikkelson K, Dickenson E, McCray J, Maxwell R, Sharp JO (2013) Adverse water quality impacts from climate-induced forest die-off. Nature Clim Change. 3: 218–222.