DURHAM, N.C. – Avner Vengosh has been named Nicholas Chair of Environmental Quality, effective July 1.

Vengosh, a faculty member at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment since 2005, is internationally recognized for his research on water and soil contamination linked to coal ash, fracking wastewater, hexavalent chromium, uranium, lithium and other harmful anthropogenic or naturally occurring pollutants.

He has developed a suite of isotopic tracers and tests that can be used to identify and measure contamination in the environment and track it back to its source—even at sites that have been contaminated by multiple sources.

He is also highly regarded for his research documenting the water footprints of conventional and renewable energy sources. These include groundbreaking studies that revealed, for the first time, the high volume of water being consumed nationally for fracking, and more recently, studies documenting how much water a household can conserve by switching from fossil fuel energy sources to solar panels.

“Avner has been at the forefront of research and scholarship on the energy-water nexus for nearly two decades. He’s set a new standard for excellence, not only in his studies—which are always meticulous, timely, transparent and relevant—but also in his fierce commitment to being a voice for science,” said Toddi Steelman, Stanback Dean of the Nicholas School.

In addition to his appointment at the Nicholas School, Vengosh holds an appointment as a research professor at the Duke Global Health Institute and serves on the faculty at Duke Kunshan University in China. Effective July 1, he will also become chair of the Nicholas School’s Earth and Climate Sciences Division.

Prior to joining Duke’s faculty, he was a researcher at the Hydrological Service of Israel and was a faculty member at Ben Gurion University.

He earned his PhD in environmental geochemistry from the Australian National University in 1990 and holds Master of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees from Hebrew University.

A prolific researcher, Vengosh has authored or co-authored more than 400 peer-reviewed papers or conference presentations, and his studies have been cited by other researchers more than 21,000 times. Many of his lab’s papers have been selected as Best of the Year by the editors of Environmental Science & Technology and other top-tier journals.

In recognition of his achievements, he was elected a Fellow of the American Geological Society in 2015 and was awarded a Distinguished Professorship by Duke in 2021.

He has repeatedly been listed in the Clarivate Web of Science annual list of the world’s Most Highly Cited scientists. Being included in that list is a measure of a researcher’s eminence and signifies that they have published multiple papers that year that rank in the top 1% of all papers published in their field by citation rate.