Lecturer and Professor of Practice Nicholas B. Tooker of the UMass Amherst Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department has received the esteemed Clair N. Sawyer Award from the New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA) in honor of his “outstanding service” in various aspects of the wastewater industry. The NEWEA awards program recognizes “the best of the best” of water-quality professionals from within the 2,000-member organization. The NEWEA also awarded a $3,000 Kate Biedron Memorial Scholarship to CEE undergraduate Ella Quinn; a scholarship named after a preeminent CEE alumna and former CEE Advisory Board member, the late Kate Biedron. 

According to the NEWEA website, “The Clair N. Sawyer Award…honors those who have given truly outstanding service in one or more of the following aspects of the wastewater industry: university teaching; operator training; research; application of innovation to improve the water environment; and the development of technical publications that advance the knowledge of wastewater practitioners. The award honors Dr. Clair N. Sawyer, who served New England, the nation, and the world as a professor, consultant, and technical author [and] pioneered many innovative concepts in wastewater-treatment technology.”

The NEWEA explains that the Kate Biedron Memorial Scholarship is an award that “includes a one-year student membership to NEWEA and will be made available to a qualifying undergraduate applicant enrolled in a public, Massachusetts-based university in an engineering program. Preference will be given to students enrolled at UMass Amherst, UMass Boston, UMass Dartmouth, UMass Lowell, Mass Maritime Academy, and Fitchburg State University.”

The NEWEA found Tooker exceptionally qualified for its Clair N. Sawyer Award. He previously was involved with research dealing with nutrient removal processes at water-resource-recovery facilities. His teaching is centered on undergraduate courses, with an emphasis on design courses, and he serves as the faculty co-advisor and mentor for the UMass Amherst student chapter of Engineers Without Borders. 

In March of 2023, Tooker was announced as one of the three UMass 2022-2023 iCons Teaching Fellows by iCons, which stands for the Integrated Concentration in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). The iCons award provides funding for faculty to join the iCons teaching team while also receiving professional-development funds. Selected faculty learn to teach student-driven courses with inclusive values while bringing their own expertise and unique experiences to the iCons Program.

In February of 2021, the NEWEA also featured Tooker in a “Member Success Story” (NEWEA Member Success Story: Nick Tooker - NEWEA - New England Water Environment Association). He has been a member of the NEWEA since 2006, during which time he has served as the chair of the NEWEA Student Activities Committee, and he is currently the chair of the NEWEA Plant Operations Committee. Tooker also serves as a member of the Water Environment Federation’s (the parent organization of NEWEA) Program Committee.

Before coming to UMass Amherst, from 2006 to 2013, Tooker was a professional engineer for Tighe & Bond of Westfield, Massachusetts, where he designed upgrades for water-resource-recovery facilities, primarily focused on nutrient-removal systems. 

Tooker earned his Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Northeastern University in Boston, his M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of California, Davis, and his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Montana State University in Bozeman. (March 2024) 

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