R. Rajagopal

R. Rajagopal
PhD, University of Michigan
308 Jessup Hall
Research Interests: 
water quality, optimal monitoring designs in time and space in relation to land use practices

My research is focused on understanding how the spatial, temporal, economic, and health components of environmental information influence public policy. Such a focus has led to research findings in support of: a policy framework for setting environmental priorities in the Midwest and the nation, a comprehensive assessment of the water resources of the United States, and the development of state-of-the-art screening techniques for the rapid detection of contaminants in the environment. Much of my research on environmental policy has a foundation in one or more of the following areas: place-based approaches; watershed protection; agriculture; measurement, monitoring, and modeling; integration of science & technology; environmental justice; environmental and natural resources economics; environmental impact assessment; and regional & international development.

  • Contemporary Environmental Issues
  • Environmental Classics: The Power of Enduring Ideas
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Environmental Quality: Science, Technology, and Policy
  • Environmental Problem Solving
  • International Environmental Policy
  • Environmental/Social Systems Analysis
  • Introduction to Research Methods (a special course prepared and offered to students enrolled under DOEd-sponsored Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education and the NIH-sponsored Iowa Bioscience Advantage Programs. Most of the students are selected from underrepresented populations in American higher education).
  • Environmental Economics for Judges
  • Creative New Product Development
  • Sampling, Statistics, and Screening for the Forensic Scientist
  • Mathematical, Statistical, and Computational Principles for Bioinformatics
  • GIS Applications for Rural Development and Banking
  • GIS Applications in Modern Management
  • Design and Development of a Modern GIS Facility
  • GIS Applications in Watershed Management and Development
  • What Is It to Be Creative?
Graduate Advisees: 

I've supervised to completion over 55 masters and PhD projects, theses, and dissertations during the last 30 years.

  • Mark Weldon. PhD student. Dissertation Topic: Scientific and Geographic Issues in the placement of Confined Animal Feeding Operations and their Impacts on the Environment. 2005.
  • Malini De. PhD student. Dissertation Topic: On the Generic Design of Optimal Monitoring Strategies: Case Studies on the implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act & the Clean Water Act. 2005.
  • Malini De. Master's student. Thesis Topic: Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Nutrients in Iowas Surface Waters. 2004.
  • Kathryn Foreman. Master's student. Thesis Topic: On the Design and Development of Indicators for impairment Assessment under the Clean Water Act. 2005.
  • Brands, Edwin. Place-based Monitoring in Environmental Protection: A Safe drinking Water Act Case Study. PhD Dissertation. 2004.
  • Tadesse, Kidane-Mariam. Changes and Continuities in Africa's Post-Independence Environment and Habitat Management Paradigms and Policies: The Case of Ethiopia and Ghana. PhD Dissertation. 2001.
  • Keck, Jonathan. Public Water Supply Protection: An Evaluation of Treatment Plant and Watershed Management Approaches. PhD Dissertation. 2000. Interdisciplinary Research Grant Award, UI, 1999.
  • Skopec, Mary. Monitoring Hydrological Systems: Analysis of Scale, Pattern, and Process. PhD Dissertation. 1999.
  • Scott Dennis Dickson. Cost-Effective Monitoring Strategies for Spatial Characterization of Subsurface Contamination. PhD Dissertation. 1998.
  • Jason Thomas Sheeley. Environmental Justice, Geographic Information Systems, and Critical Social Theory: Implications for Development of Environmental Equity Analysis Methodologies. MA Thesis. 1997. In 1998, this thesis was selected by the UI Graduate College as the UI's single submission to the Midwestern Association of Graduate School's Distinguished Master's Thesis Award competition.
  • Ramana Venkata Kuchibhatla. The Role of Objectives in the Design of Cost-Effective Water Quality Monitoring Strategies. PhD Dissertation. 1996.
  • Charles W. Emerson. Economics of Spatial Characterization of Volatile Organic Compounds in Landfill Gas. PhD Dissertation. 1996.
  • Eric Reid Sheehan. Multi-dimensional Image Processing of Subsurface Hazardous Waste Contaminants. MA Thesis. 1995.
  • Brian Thompson. Determinants of Organochlorines in Freshwater Fish. MA Thesis. 1993.
  • Charles W. Emerson. Evaluation of Colorimetric Detector Tubes as Screening Tools in Landfill Gas Monitoring. MA Thesis. 1993.
  • Chen, Grace F. Post-EIS Auditing of Water Quality. MA Thesis. 1993.
  • Usha Natarajan. Economics of Screening for the Detection of Pesticides in Ground Water. PhD Dissertation. 1992. Winner of three national awards: AAG's Nystrom Award in 1993, UCOWR's annual competition in 1993, and AWRA's annual paper competition in 1994.
  • Ping-Chi Li. Economics of Screening for VOCs in Ground-Water Quality Monitoring. PhD dissertation. 1992. Interdisciplinary Research Grant Award, UI, 1991.
  • Patricia M. Witinok. On the Relationship between Sediment Deposition and Land Use Changes in a Lacustrine Wetland. Ph. D. Dissertation. 1992.
Grants & Funding: 
  • Principal Investigator. Two proposals currently under preparation for submission to the USDA with a total requested funding of approximately $600,000. Deadline March 2005.
  • Co-PI with Bill Smith, PhD. A Place-Based Model for the Provision of Safe Drinking Water in Small Island Communities:The Case of Chuuk, Micronesia.A travel grant support from the University of Iowa for a two-week study tour ($5,200). 2004
  • Principal Investigator (with Bennett, Brands, and Osterberg). Water Quality Protection in Agroecosystems: Integrating Science, Technology, and Policy at the Watershed scale. Funded by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), USDA. $394,000. 2001-04
  • Co-investigator (with Sheeley, URS and Forkenbrock, Public Policy Center, UI, Co-PIs). Effective Methods for Environmental Justice Assessment, Funded by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), NAS. $499,000.  2001-03.
  • One year funding of about $20,000 from the UI Graduate College for Jonathan Keck to complete an Ad-hoc Interdisciplinary PhD dissertation. 1998-99.
  • In-kind support (over $50,000) for hydrological field monitoring, as part of Mary Skopec's dissertation research, received from private corporations, the UI Office of Research, and the UI Foundation.1993-99.
  • In-kind support (of over $20,000) for laboratory chemical analyses at UHL, as part Mr. Scott Dickson's dissertation research. 1998.
  • Co-investigator (with Campbell, Greenough, Mutti, Roberts, Silliman, and Willis). A View through a Multi-faceted Window: NGOs and the Narmada Dam, Project in Central India. A Bridging Project, Funded by the Ford Foundation. $37,950.1996.
  • Principal Investigator (with Skopec, Armstrong, and Osterberg). Water Quality Protection at Watershed Scale: Integrating Science and Policy. Proposal submitted to NSF/EPA. Award request: $833,502. Recommended for funding (top 30 out of 900 proposals) contingent on congressional budget authorization. Due to federal budget cuts, this proposal was not funded.1995-98.
  • Principal Coordinator. Geographic Information Systems Instructional Laboratory (GISIL). A University of Iowa/Private Sector partnership. Estimated funding, including in-kind support: Over $1.5 million.1995-98.
  • Principal Investigator. A Policy Framework for Environmental Priorities. The Joyce Foundation. Award Amount: $244,000. 1992-95.
  • Principal Investigator. Utility of Screening Concepts at Selected DOE Sites. US DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory. $259,845.1993-94.
  • Principal Investigator. Knowledge-Based Systems for Ground-Water Quality Assessments. Funded by the U.S. EPA. $233,000. 1991-93.  
  • Principal Investigator. Water Resources of the United States: Problems, Risk Perceptions, and Priorities. Funded by the National Geographic Society. $47,460. 1992.   
  • Principal Investigator. An Approach for Assessing the Utility of Large Data Bases in Ecological Monitoring and Assessment.Funded by the U. S.EPA. $119,040. 1989-92.
  • Assisted two of my Ph. D. candidates secure major laboratory analytical assistance valued at over $80,000 from private and governmental laboratories. 1991.   
  • Principal Investigator. Information-Integration Software for Ground-Water Quality Assessments. Funded by the U. S. EPA. $115,213.1989-90.
  • Principal Investigator. Design of Ground-Water Quality Monitoring Strategies.Funded by the U. S. EPA. $346,262.1986-89.
  • Principal Investigator. Ground-Water Quality Assessments for Public Policy. Multi-year Grants Funded by the Joyce Foundation. $142,000. 1983-88.

Selected Honors and Awards

  • Invited to participate in the Oxford Round Table (for one week) on “International Trade, Environment, and Social Justice,” Oxford University, England, August 2004 & 2005.
  • Invitee to the Governor’s Water Quality Summit. Iowa. November. 2003.
  • Member, USDA Review Committee for the SBIR Program, 2000-01
  • Member, NSF Review Panel, Water and Watersheds. 1999.
  • Member, Elected to the Board of Trustees, The Environmental Careers Organization, A 15+ million dollar/year Non-profit Organization that assists and counsels students and professionals with career choices, 1998-2000.
  • Nominator (1985-95), Annual Japan Prize (Japanese equivalent of the Nobel), since its inception in 1985.
  • Listed in the Directory of Distinguished Americans, in Who's Who in the Midwest, in Who's Who in Science and Engineering, and in Who's Who in Global Conservation.
  • Member, Health Effects Advisory Group, The Great Lakes Protection Fund (GLPF). It is a 100+ million dollar endowment established to protect the Great Lakes, 1992-95.
  • Vice Chair, Board of Trustees, The Environmental Careers Organization, 1988-96.
  • Member, International Committee, Universities Council on Water Resources, 1990-91.
  • Chair, Steering Committee, The National Environmental Intern Action Project. Pew Charitable Trusts, PA. 1989-90.
  • Recognized by the US EPA for Outstanding Contribution to the Environmental Monitoring Systems Laboratory's Problem-Solving and Creative Thinking, 1988.
  • Founding Editor. The quarterly journal "The Environmental Professional" 1979-84. Currently Published by the Cambridge University Press under the title “Environmental Practice.”
Selected Publications: 
  • 8-10 coauthored papers from the USDA grant (2001-04) are currently under preparation for submission to various environmental and policy journals in the next month for publication in 2005.
  • R. Rajagopal with the assistance of Mark Weldon.Environmental Protection in a Recessionary Economy.Paper under review in the journal “Environmental Practice” published by the Oxford University Press.2005.
  • Brands, E. P. and R. Rajagopal. The Evolution of Environmental Innovation: A DynamicFeedback Process Linking Technology, Culture, and Policy.Revised paper under consideration for publication in the journal “Environmental Practice,” Oxford University Press. 2005.
  • Charles W. Emerson and R. Rajagopal.  Measuring Toxic Emissions from Landfills Using Sequential Screening, Computers, Environment, and Urban Systems, 28(2004): 265-284.
  • A draft of a 1,500+ page manuscript on “Environmental Monitoring” has been collated and organized in a consistent digital format (2001-2003). To be edited, reviewed, and modified for submission to a book publisher in 2005.
  • R. Rajagopal and D. Osterberg. 1995. A Framework for Environmental Priorities. Midwestern Perspectives. Research Notes #1-6: Comparative Risk Assessment and Congressional Regulatory Reform, Environmental Justice, Pollution Prevention, Environmental Innovation, Unfunded Mandates, and Takings/Private Property Rights. Research sponsored by the Joyce Foundation, Chicago. Department of Geography. The University of Iowa.
  • R. Kuchibhatla and R. Rajagopal. 1995. A Comparative Analysis of Water Quality Sampling Decisions in Aquifers. The Environmental Professional. 17(4): 316-330.
  • U. Natarajan and R. Rajagopal. 1994. Economics of Screening for Pesticides in Ground Water. Water Resources Bulletin. 30(4):579-588.
  • R. Rajagopal and P. C. Li. 1994. Utility of Screening in Environmental Monitoring. Part 1: Occurrence and Distribution of VOCs in Ground Water. American Environmental Laboratory. 6(4):16-19.
  • P. C. Li and R. Rajagopal. 1994. Utility of Screening in Environmental Monitoring. Part 2: Sequential Screening Methods for Monitoring VOCs at Waste Sites. American Environmental Laboratory. 6(5):63-66.
  • P. C. Li and R. Rajagopal. 1994. Utility of Screening in Environmental Monitoring. Part 3: Sample Compositing Methods for Monitoring VOCs at Waste Sites. American Environmental Laboratory. 6(9):37-45.
  • U. Natarajan and R. Rajagopal. 1993. Pesticides in Water: Surveying the Situation. Part I. Environmental Testing & Analysis. 2(1): 40-50.
  • U. Natarajan and R. Rajagopal. 1993. Pesticides in Water: Screening with Sequential Analysis. Part II. Environmental Testing & Analysis. 2(2): 60-67.
  • U. Natarajan and R. Rajagopal. 1993. Pesticides in Water: Sample Compositing. Part III. Environmental Testing & Analysis. 2(3):54-63.
  • G. A. Tobin and R. Rajagopal. 1993. Groundwater Contamination and Protection Problems in a Small Community. The Social Science Journal. 30(1):113-128.
  • R. Rajagopal, U. Natarajan, and J. Wacker. 1992. Information Integration for Environmental Monitoring and Assessment: An Annotated Bibliography. The Environmental Professional. 14(2): 151-177.
  • R. Rajagopal and G. A. Tobin. 1992. Economics of Ground-Water Quality Monitoring: A Survey of Experts. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. 22(2): 39-56.
  • R. Rajagopal et al. 1992. An Approach for Assessing the Utility of Large Databases in Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. A report Submitted to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. 163p.
  • R. Rajagopal, D. Osterberg, F. Ogden, U. Natarajan, C. Emerson, and W. Krajewski. 1992. Water Resources of the United States: Problems, Risk Perceptions, and Priorities. 254 p. A Research Report Submitted to the National Geographic Society, Washington, DC. 254p.
  • R. Rajagopal and P. C. Li. 1991. Comparison of Two Screening Methods for the Detection of VOCs in Ground Water. Journal of Chemometrics. 5(3): 321-331. 1991.
  • R. Rajagopal and G. A. Tobin. 1991. Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Survey of Expert Opinions. Environmental Geochemistry and Health. 13(1): 3-13.
  • R. Rajagopal. 1990. Economics of Screening in the Detection of Organics in Ground Water. Chemometrics and Intelligent Laboratory Systems. 9: 261-272.
  • R. Rajagopal and G. A. Tobin. 1990. Radioactivity in Drinking Water: Expert Opinion and Policy Choices. Environmental Geochemistry and Health. 12(4):267-276.
  • G. A. Tobin and R. Rajagopal. 1990. The Point-of-Use Water Treatment Industry: Expert Opinion on Regulation. The Environmental Professional. 12(4):298-304.
  • G. A. Tobin and R. Rajagopal. 1990. Expert Opinion and Ground-Water Quality: The Case of Agricultural Drainage Wells. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 45(2): 336-341.