Contact Us


Biological & Agricultural Engineering

Engineering/Physics Building
Phone: (208) 885-6182
Fax: (208) 885-7908

Mailing Address:
Biological & Agricultural Engineering
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 0904
Moscow, ID 83844-0904

Idaho Falls

College of 
Agricultural & Life Sciences
University of Idaho
1776 Science Center Dr., Suite 306
Idaho Falls, Idaho  83402
phone: (208) 282-7900
fax: (208) 282-7929




Thomas Hess, Ph.D.

Office: EP401
Phone: 208 885-7461
Email: tfhess@uidaho.edu
Mailing Address: E/P Building
875 Perimeter Drive MS 0904
Moscow, ID 83844-0904

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Biological and Agricultural Engineering
Environmental Biotechnology Institute

Campus Locations: Moscow
With UI Since 1994

  • Research/Focus Areas
    • Bioremediation
    • Process optimization
    • Genetic algorithms
    • Composting
  • Biography

    Dr. Thomas F. Hess is currently a professor in the department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering. His engineering education was completed at the University of Colorado where he received a PhD in environmental engineering in 1990. He has previous academic experience at both Rutgers University and the University of Colorado in addition to ten years of consulting engineering experience in the western US. Dr. Hess' research expertise is in the field of bioremediation, specifically using combined chemical and biological processes to transform and detoxify organic, hazardous wastes. Additionally, he is actively involved in research on computer-assisted optimization of biological processes that employ various sophisticated mathematical algorithms. Dr Hess’ research funding has come from USEPA, US National Science Foundation, USDA, DOD, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (former DOE facility) and private industry. Dr. Hess teaches a variety of environmental engineering courses related to biological treatment of hazardous wastes and domestic wastes in addition to capstone design for all senior undergraduate engineers. Dr. Hess is a licensed professional engineer in both the States of Colorado and Idaho.

  • Selected Publications
    • Kucharzyk, K. H., R. L. Crawford, A. J. Paszczynski, T.F. Hess. 2011. Maximizing microbial perchlorate degradation using a genetic algorithm: microbial consortia optimization. J. Biotech. (in review)
    • Kucharzyk, K. H., R. L. Crawford, A. J. Paszczynski, T.F. Hess. 2011. Maximizing microbial perchlorate degradation using a genetic algorithm: media optimization. J. Biotech. (in review)
    • Gebremariam, S.Y., D. Christian and T. F. Hess. 2011. Biochemistry and microbiology of enhanced biological phosphorus removal: a critical review. Wat. Environ. Res. 83:3:195-219.
    • Howsawkeng, J., A. L. Teel, T. F. Hess, R. L. Crawford, R. J. Watts. 2010. Simultaneous abiotic reduction–biotic oxidation in a microbial-MnO2-catalyzed Fenton-like system. Sci. Total Environ. 409:2:439-445.
    • Christian, D., E. Wong, R. L. Crawford, I. F. Cheng and T. F. Hess. 2010. Heavy metals removal from mine runoff using compost bioreactors. J Environ. Technol. 31:14, 1533-1546.
    • Kucharzyk, K. H., R. L. Crawford, A. J. Paszczynski, T.F. Hess. 2010. A method for assaying perchlorate concentration in microbial cultures using the fluorescent dye resazurin. J. Microbiol. Methods. 81:26-32.
    • Kucharzyk, K.H., R. L. Crawford, B. Cosens, T. F. Hess. 2009. Development of drinking water standards for perchlorate ion in the United States. J. Environ. Management. 91:303-310
    • Vandecastelle, F.P.J., T.F. Hess, R.L. Crawford. 2008. Using a genetic algorithm to drive a microbial ecosystem in a desirable direction. Environ. Microbiol. 10(7):1823-1830.
    • Vandecasteele, F.P.J., R. L. Crawford, and T. F. Hess. 2007. Demonstrating the suitability of genetic algorithms for driving microbial ecosystems in desirable directions. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 92:83-93.
    • Perumbakkam, S., T.F. Hess, and R.L. Crawford. 2006. A bioremediation approach using natural transformation in pure-culture and mixed-population biofilms Biodegradation. 17:545-557
    • Büyüksönmez, F., Rynk, R., Hess, T. and Fornshell, G. 2005. Composting characteristics of trout manure. J. Resid. Sci. Technol. 2 (3):149-157.
    • Ponciano, J.M., F.P.J. Vandecasteele, T.F. Hess, L. Forney, and P. Joyce. 2005. Use of stochastic models to assess the effect of environmental factors on bacterial growth. Appl. Environ. Microbiol . 71:5:2355-2364.
    • Hess, T.F., I. Grdzelishvili, H. Sheng, and C.J. Hovde. 2004. Heat inactivation of E. coli O157:H7 during manure composting. Compost Sci. Util. 12:4:314-322.
    • Schrader, P.S. and T.F. Hess. 2004. Coupled abiotic-biotic transformation of TNT in soil solution. J. Environ. Qual. 33:1202-1209.
  • Research Projects
    • BioXcelerator. $6,900. “BXT: Maximize yield of cholesterol” Co-PI, awarded October, 2009.
    • University of Idaho Research Office. $2100. “Grant for visiting scholar interdisciplinary seminar”, PI awarded August 2007.
      Department of Defense, $850,000 (three years). “Remediation of perchlorate- contaminated groundwater”, Co-PI awarded December 2006.
    • National Institute of Health, $450,000 equipment grant. “Grant for confocal laser microscope”, Co-PI, awarded November 2005.
      Idaho National Environmental Engineering Laboratory. $35,000 (one year) PhD Fellowship for Frederik Vandecastelle. P.I. awarded April 2004.
    • Bureau of Land Management. $48,400 (two years) “Mechanisms of Bioreactor-based Mine Water Treatment” Co-P.I. awarded September 2003.
    • Idaho National Environmental Engineering Laboratory. $35,000 (one year) PhD Fellowship for Frederik Vandecastelle. P.I. awarded May 2003.
    • National Science Foundation. $180,000 (three years) “Life at Interfaces and the Biocomplexity of Extreme Environments” P.I. awarded February 2002.
  • Outreach Projects
    • Advisor for Tau Beta Pi
    • Engineers without borders
  • Awards and Honors
    • Outstanding Young Faculty, College of Engineering 1995-96, University of Idaho
    • Innovation Award, 2009, University Research Office, University of Idaho