Civil and Environmental Engineering

Barbara Minsker

Chair, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Bobby B. Lyle Professor of Leadership and Global Entrepreneurship
Senior Fellow in the Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity

B.S. with Distinction, Cornell University, operations research and industrial engineering, 1986 Ph.D., Cornell University, civil and environmental engineering, 1995 Post-doctoral research associate, University of Vermont, Research Center for Groundwater Remediation Design, 1995 – 1996


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Developing innovative systems approaches to improve sustainability and resilience of coupled human and natural systems. Current research focuses on coupling machine learning and social computing with “big data” and other information technology to address complex problems such as green stormwater infrastructure design, integrated water cycle engineering, combined sewer overflows, hypoxia, and floods and droughts. 



Minsker, Barbara S., “Genetic Algorithms,” in Hydroinformatics: Data Integrative Approaches in Computation, Analysis, and Modeling, ed. Praveen Kumar, CRC Press, ISBN 0849328942, 2005.

Minsker, Barbara, The Joyful Professor: How to Shift From Surviving to Thriving in the Faculty Life, Henschel Haus Publishing Inc., 2010.

Minsker, Barbara, Joyful U: Discovering the Path of Success and Happiness; Mindful Living with Purpose and Resilience, Henschel Haus Publishing Inc., 2014.


Zimmer, A., A. Schmidt, A. Ostfeld, and B. Minsker, “Reducing Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) Through Model Predictive Control and Capital Investment,” Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, in press.

Zhao, Tingting, Barbara Minsker, Fernando Salas, David Maidment, Vesselin Diev, Jacob Spoelstra, and Prashant Dhingra, “Statistical and Hybrid Methods Implemented in a Web Application for Predicting Reservoir Inflows During Flood Events,” Journal of the American Water Resources Association, Article ID: JAWR12575 and DOI: 10.1111/1752-1688.12575, 2017.

Xu, Wenzhao, Collingsworth, Paris, Bailey, Barbara, and Minsker, Barbara, “Detecting Spatial Patterns of Rivermouth Processes Using a Geostatistical Framework for Near-Real-Time Analysis,” Environmental Modeling and Software, in press.

Du, Erhu, Ximing Cai, Nicholas Brozovic, and Barbara Minsker, “Evaluating the Impacts of Farmers’ Behaviors on a Hypothetical Agricultural Water Market Based on Double Auction,” Water Resources Research, in press.

Du, Erhu, Samuel Rivera, Ximing Cai, Laura Myers, Andrew Ernest, and Barbara Minsker, “Impacts of Human Behavioral Heterogeneity on the Benefits of Probabilistic Flood Warnings: An Agent-Based Modeling Framework,” Journal of the American Water Resources Association, (JAWRA), 1–17, DOI: 10.1111/1752-1688.12475, 2016.

Padhy, Smruti, Jay Alameda, Rob Kooper, Rui Liu, Sandeep Puthanveetil Satheesan, Inna Zharnitsky, Greg Jansen, Michael C. Dietze, Praveen Kumar, Jong Lee, Richard Marciano, Luigi Marini, Barbara Minsker, Chris Navarro, Marcus Slavenas, William Sullivan and Kenton McHenry, “An Architecture for Automatic Deployment of Brown Dog Services At Scale into Diverse Computing Infrastructures,” XSEDE16 Conference Proceedings, Association for Computing Machinery, 2016.

Zimmer, A., A. Schmidt, B. Ostfeld, and B. Minsker, “Evolutionary algorithm enhancement for model predictive control and real-time decision support,” Environmental Modelling and Software, 69, 2015.

Padhy, Smruty, Greg Jansen, Jay Alameda, Edgar Black, Liana Diesendruck, Mike Dietze, Praveen Kumar, Rob Kooper, Jong Lee, Riu Liu, Ricard Marciano, Luigi Marini, Dave Mattson, Barbara Minsker, Chris Navarro, Marcus Slavenas, William Sullivan, Jason Votava, and Kenton McHenry, “Brown Dog: Leveraging Everything Towards Autocuration,” 2015 IEEE International Conference on Big Data (IEEE BigData 2015), 2015.

Minsker, B., L. Baldwin, J. Crittenden, K. Kabbes, M. Karamouz, K. Lansey, T. Malinowski, E. Nzewi, A. Pandit, J. Parker, S. Rivera, C. Surbeck, B. Wallace, and J. Williams, “Progress and Recommendations for Advancing Performance-Based Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure Design,” Journal of Water Resources Planning & Management,, 2015.

Rivera, S., B. Minsker, D. Work, and D. Roth, “A text mining framework for advancing sustainability indicators,” Environmental Modelling and Software, 62, 128-138, 2014.

Maier, H.R., Z. Kapelan, J. Kasprzyk, J. Kollat, L.S. Matott, M.C. Cunha, G.C. Dandy, M.S. Gibbs, E. Keedwell, A. Marchi, A. Ostfeld, D. Savic, D.P. Solomatine, J.A. Vrugt, A.C. Zecchin, B.S. Minsker, E.J. Barbour, G. Kuczera, F. Pasha, A. Castelletti, M. Giuliani, et al., Evolutionary algorithms and other metaheuristics in water resources: Current status, research challenges and future directions, Environmental Modelling & Software, Volume 62, Pages 271-299, 2014.

Coopersmith, E., B. Minsker, C. Wenzel, and B. Gilmore, "Machine Learning Assessments of Soil Drying for Agricultural, Construction, and Recreational Planning," Journal of Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, 104, 93-104, 2014.

Hill, David J., Branko Kerkez, Amin Rasekh, M. Katherine Banks, Barbara Minsker, Avi Ostfeld, "Sensing and Cyberinfrastructure for Smarter Water Management: The Challenge of Ubiquity," Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, Vol. 140, No. 7, 2014.

Ahalt, S.; Band, L.; Christopherson, L.; Idaszak, R.; Lenhardt, C.; Minsker, B.; Palmer, M.; Shelley, M.; Tiemann, M.; Zimmerman, A., "Water Science Software Institute: Agile and Open Source Scientific Software Development," Computing in Science & Engineering , vol.16, no.3, pp.18-26, doi: 10.1109/MCSE.2014.5, 2014.

Coopersmith, E., B. Minsker, and M. Sivapalan, Using similarity of soil texture and hydroclimate to enhance soil moisture estimation, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 3095-3107, doi:10.5194/hess-18-3095-2014, 2014.

Coopersmith, E., B. Minsker, and M. Sivapalan, "Patterns of Regional Climate Change: An Analysis of Shifting Hydrologic Regime Curves," Water Resources Research, 50(3), 1960–1983, DOI: 10.1002/2012WR013320, 2014.

Zimmer, A., A. Schmidt, A. Ostfeld, B. Minsker, “A New Method for the Offline Solution of Pressurized and Supercritical Flows,” Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, doi: 10.1061/(ASCE)HY.1943-7900.0000747, 2013.

Ahalt, S., Larry Band, Barbara Minsker, Margaret Palmer, Michael Tiemann, Ray Idaszak, Chris Lendhardt and Mary Whitton “Water Science Software Institute: An Open Source Engagement Process,” Proceedings of the 2013 International Workshop on Software Engineering for Computational Science and Engineering, 2013.

Wietsma, T., and B. Minsker, “Enabling scientific data sharing and re-use,” 2012 IEEE 8th International Conference on E-Science, Chicago, IL,, 2012.

Gartial, M.R., B. Braunschweig, Te-Wei Chang, Parya Moinzadeh, Barbara S. Minsker, Gul Agha, Andrzej Wieckowski, Laura L. Keefer and Gang Logan Liu, "Micro Electronic Wireless Nitrate Sensor Network for Environmental Water Monitoring," Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts (formerly J. Environ. Monit.), DOI:10.1039/C2EM30380A, 2012

Hill, David J., Yong Liu, Luigi Marini, Rob Kooper, Alejandro Rodriguez, Barbara S. Minsker, James Myers, Terry McLaren, “Using A Virtual Sensor System to Create Real-Time Customized Environmental Data Products,” Environmental Modelling and Software, 26,, 1710-1724, 2011.

Babbar-Sebens, Meghna, and B. S. Minsker, “Interactive Genetic Algorithm With Mixed Initiative Interaction For Multi-Criteria Ground Water Monitoring Design,” Applied Soft Computing,, 2011.

Gopalakrishnan, G., B. Minsker, and A.Valocchi, “Monitoring Network Design for Phytoremediation Systems Using Primary and Secondary Data Sources,” Environmental Science and Technology, 45 (11), 4846–4853, 2011.

Yan, S., and B. Minsker, “Applying Dynamic Surrogate Models in Noisy Genetic Algorithms to Optimize Groundwater Remediation Designs,” Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, 137(3), DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)WR.1943-5452.0000106, 2011.

Coopersmith, E. J., B. Minsker, and P. Montagna, “Understanding and Forecasting Hypoxia Using Machine Learning Algorithms,” Journal of Hydroinformatics, 13(1), 64-80, doi:10.2166/hydro.2010.015, 2011.

Singh, A., D. D. Walker, B. S. Minsker, and A. J. Valocchi, “Incorporating Subjective and Stochastic Uncertainty in an Interactive Multi-Objective Groundwater Calibration Framework,” Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment, 24(6), 881-898, 2010.

Babbar-Sebens, M., and B. S. Minsker, “Case-Based Micro Interactive Genetic Algorithm (CBMIGA) for Interactive Learning: Methodology and Application to Groundwater Monitoring Design,” Environmental Modelling & Software, 25 1176e1187, doi:10.1016/j.envsoft.2010.03.027, 2010

Hill, D. J., and B. S. Minsker, “Anomaly detection in streaming environmental sensor data: A data-driven modeling approach,” Environmental Modelling & Software, doi:10.1016/j.envsoft.2009.08.010, 2009.

Hill, D. J., B. S. Minsker, and E. Amir, “Real-Time Bayesian Anomaly Detection in Streaming Environmental Data,” Water Resources Research, 45, W00D28, doi:10.1029/2008WR006956, 2009.

Singh, A., B. S. Minsker, and P. Bajcsy, “Image-Based Machine Learning for Reduction of User-Fatigue in an Interactive Model Calibration System,” Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering,, 2009.

Demissie, Yonas K., Albert J. Valocchi, Barbara S. Minsker, Barbara A. Bailey, Integrating a calibrated groundwater flow model with error-correcting data-driven models to improve predictions, Journal of Hydrology, 364(3-4), 257-271, ISSN 0022-1694, DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2008.11.007, 2009.

Babbar-Sebens, M., and B. S. Minsker, “Standard Interactive Genetic Algorithm - A Comprehensive Optimization Framework for Groundwater Monitoring Design,” J. of Water Resources Planning and Management, 134(6), 2008.

Singh, A., B. S. Minsker, A. J. Valocchi, “An Interactive Multi-Objective Optimization Framework for Groundwater Inverse Modeling,” Advances in Water Resources, 31(10), 1269-1283, 2008.

Singh, A., and B. S. Minsker, “Uncertainty-Based Multiobjective Optimization of Groundwater Remediation Design,” Water Resources Research, 44, W02404, doi:10.1029/2005WR004436, 2008.

Montgomery, J. Haas, C., Minsker, B. Schnoor, J., “The WATERS Network: Transforming our Scientific Understanding of the Nation's Waters,” Water Env. Res., 79(4), 339-340, 2007.

Montgomery, J., T. Harmon, W. Kaiser, A. Sanderson, C. Haas, R. Hooper, B. Minsker, J. Schnoor., N. Clesceri, W. Graham, P. Brezonik, “The WATERS Network: An Integrated Environmental Observatory Network for Water Research,” Environmental Science and Technology, 6642-6647, 2007.

Sinha, E., and B. Minsker, “Multiscale island injection genetic algorithms for groundwater remediation,” Advances in Water Resources, 30(9), 1933-1942, 2007.

Hill, D., B. Minsker, A. Valocchi, V. Babovic, and M. Keijzer, “Upscaling Models of Solute Transport in Porous Media through Genetic Programming,” Journal of Hydroinformatics, 9(4), 251­266, 2007.

Farrell, D. M., B. S. Minsker , D. Tcheng , D. Searsmith , J. Bohn , D. Beckman, “Data Mining To Improve Management And Reduce Costs Of Environmental Remediation, J. of Hydroinformatics, 9(2), doi:10.2166/hydro.2007.004, 107–121, 2007.

Gopalakrishnan, G., M. C. Negri, B. S. Minsker, C. J. Werth, Monitoring subsurface contamination using tree branches, Ground Water Monitoring and Remediation, 27(1), 1-10, 2007.

Characklis, G. W., P. M. Reed, and B. S. Minsker, “The Role of the Systems Community in the National Science Foundation’s Environmental Observatories,” Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, 133(1), 1-3, 2007.

Espinoza, F., and B. S. Minsker, “Effects of local search algorithms on hybrid genetic algorithm performance for groundwater remediation design,” Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering, 20(6), 420-430, 2006.

Becker, D., Minsker, B., Greenwald, R., Zhang, Y., Harre, K., Yager, K., Zheng, C., and Peralta, R., “Reducing Long-Term Remedial Costs by Transport Modeling Optimization,” Ground Water, 44(6), 864-875, 2006.

Espinoza, F., and B. S. Minsker, “Development of the enhanced self-adaptive hybrid genetic algorithm (e-SAHGA),” Water Resources Research, 42, W08501, doi:10.1029/2005WR004221, 2006.

Dawsey, W., B. S. Minsker, and V. L. VanBlaricum, “Bayesian belief networks to integrate monitoring evidence of water distribution system contamination,” Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, 132(4), 234-241, 2006.

Babbar, M., and B. S. Minsker, “Groundwater Remediation Design Using Multiscale Genetic Algorithms,” J. of Water Resources Planning and Management, 132(5), 341-350, 2006.

Yan, S., and B. S. Minsker, “Optimal Groundwater Remediation Design Using An Adaptive Neural Network Genetic Algorithm,” Water Resources Research, 42, W05407, doi:10.1029/2005WR004303, 2006.

Ren, X., and B. S. Minsker, “Which Groundwater Remediation Objective is Better, a Realistic One or a Simple One?,” J. of Water Resources Planning and Management, 131(5), 351-361, 2005.

Michael, W.J., B. S. Minsker, D. Tcheng, and A. J. Valocchi, "Integrating Data Sources to Improve Hydraulic Head Predictions: A Hierarchical Machine Learning Approach," Water Resources Research, 41(3), W03020 10.1029/2003WR002802, 2005.

Espinoza, F., B. S. Minsker, and D. E. Goldberg, “Adaptive hybrid genetic algorithm for groundwater remediation design,” J. of Water Resources Planning and Management, 131(1), 14-24, 2005.

Minsker, B., “Long-Term Groundwater Monitoring Optimization: Improving Performance and Reducing Costs Associated with Natural Attenuation and Other In Situ Treatments," Bioremediation Journal, 8(no 3-4), 87-88, 2004.

Reed, P., T.R. Ellsworth, and B.S. Minsker, "Spatial Interpolation Methods for Nonstationary Plume Data." Ground Water, 42(2), 190-202, 2004.

Reed, P. and B. S. Minsker, "Striking the Balance: Long Term Groundwater Monitoring Design for Multiple, Conflicting Objectives." Journal of Water Resources and Planning Management, 130(2), 140-149, 2004.

Liu, Y., and B. S. Minsker, “Full Multiscale Approach For Optimal Control Of In-Situ Bioremediation,” J. of Water Resources Planning and Management, 130(1), 26-32, 2004.

Reed, P., B. S. Minsker, and D. E. Goldberg, "Simplifying Multiobjective Optimization: An Automated Design Methodology for the Nondominated Sorted Genetic Algorithm-II." Water Resources Research, 39(7), 1196, doi:10.1029/2002WR001483, 2003.

Gopalakrishnan, G., B. S. Minsker, and D. Goldberg, Optimal sampling in a noisy genetic algorithm for risk-based remediation design, Journal of Hydroinformatics, 5(1), 11-25, 2003.

Liu, Y., and B. S. Minsker, Efficient multiscale methods for optimal in situ bioremediation design, J. of Water Resources Planning and Management, 128(3), 227-236, 2002.

Liu, Y., B. S. Minsker, and F. Saied, A one-way multiscale method for optimal in situ bioremediation design, J. of Water Resources Planning and Management, 127(2), 130-139, 2001.

Reed, P., B. Minsker, and D. Goldberg, A multiobjective approach to cost effective long-term groundwater monitoring using an elitist nondominated sorted genetic algorithm with historical data, Invited paper, Journal of Hydroinformatics, 3, 71-89, 2001.

Reed, P., B. Minsker, and A. J. Valocchi, Cost effective long-term monitoring design using a genetic algorithm and global mass interpolation, Water Resources Research, 36(12), 3731-3741, 2000.

Reed, P., B. S. Minsker, and D. E. Goldberg, Designing a competent simple genetic algorithm for search and optimization, Water Resources Research, 36(12), 3757-3761, 2000.

Smalley, J. B., B. S. Minsker, and D. E. Goldberg, Risk-based in situ bioremediation design using a noisy genetic algorithm, Water Resources Research, 36(20), 3043-3052, 2000.

Kosegi, J. M., B. S. Minsker, and D. E. Dougherty, A feasibility study of thermal in situ bioremediation of dense nonaqueous phase liquids, Journal of Environmental Engineering, 126(7), 601-610, 2000.

Minsker, B. S., and C. A. Shoemaker, Quantifying the effects of uncertainty on optimal groundwater bioremediation policies, Water Resources Research, 124(12), 3615-3625, 1998.

Minsker, B. S., and C. A. Shoemaker, Dynamic optimal control of in situ bioremediation, Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, 124(3), 149-161, 1998.

Minsker, B.S., and C.A. Shoemaker, Computational issues associated with optimal design of in situ bioremediation, Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, 124(1), 39-46, 1998.

Minsker, B.S., and C.A. Shoemaker, "Differentiating a finite element biodegradation model for optimal control," Water Resources Research, 32(1), 187-192, 1996.



1998 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award
1999-2000 National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) Faculty Fellow
2000 Army Young Investigator Award
2000 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists & Engineers (PECASE)
2001-2002 Center for Advanced Study Fellow
2001-2016 Arthur and Virginia Nauman Faculty Scholar, University of Illinois
2003 Fellow, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Invitation Fellowship Program
2003 American Society of Civil Engineers Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize
2005 ASCE Environmental and Water Resources Institute (EWRI) Outstanding Achievement Award
2006 Xerox Award for Faculty Research
2008-2011 University Scholar
2012 EWRI Service to the Profession Award
2015 Leadership Illinois, Class of 2015
2016-present Bobby B. Lyle Endowed Professor of Leadership & Global Entrepreneurship