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Engineering Safer Solid Waste is a Career Goal for Bently Higgs

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FAMU-FSU Engineering
Bently Higgs in the field

As more trash and waste accumulate due to population growth and increased consumption worldwide, we need to develop methods to effectively manage waste in economically resourceful and environmentally-friendly ways.

Bently Higgs, an environmental/civil engineer who recently completed his doctoral degree from Florida A&M University at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, is actively exploring ways to improve waste management and landfills. He studied under esteemed environmental engineering professor, Tarek Abichou, Ph.D.

One alternative Higgs is exploring uses robust landfill covers and liners such as geosynthetic clay liners (GCLs) to protect the environment around the landfills. These liners are used to mitigate contaminants from exiting landfills that can negatively impact air and groundwater. With this innovative technology, these effects can on the environment and human health can be mitigated.

In the study, Higgs is investigating the effects of long-term performance on conventional GCLs installed in landfills. He is looking at using part of cover and/or liner systems with various landfill leachates (liquid byproduct of decomposed waste). The study results can be used as a basis for future examination to improve the quality, capacity and functionality of GCLs by providing a large database and prediction models that could prevent environmental disasters.

“Dr. Abichou’s work in landfill design management has long been recognized nationally and internationally, affecting numerous changes in standards and practices,” Lisa Spainhour, civil engineering professor and department chair said. “As part of his research team, Bently’s contributions to the body of knowledge regarding geosynthetic clay liners are an important step toward reducing the potential impact of landfills on groundwater quality. The department is so proud of him both personally and professionally.”

Higgs earned his bachelor’s at Florida A&M University (FAMU), his masters at Florida State University and his Ph.D. at FAMU. Because of the unique, joint nature of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, Higgs was able to complete all of his coursework at the college and under the tutelage of Abichou and others.

The contributions of Higgs and his team will help facilitate proper waste management, work toward environmental protection and provide value for future expenditure in landfill management.

Dr. Bently Higgs (left) and Dr. Tarek Abichou at the FAMU fall 2018 Commencement Ceremony

The unique liner Higgs studies