Bill Mitch received a B.A. in Anthropology (Archaeology) from Harvard University in 1993. During his studies, he excavated at Mayan sites in Belize and surveyed sites dating from 2,000 B.C. in Louisiana. He switched fields by receiving a M.S. degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley. He worked for 3 years in environmental consulting, receiving his P.E. license in Civil Engineering in California. Returning to UC Berkeley in 2000, he received his PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2003. He moved to Yale as an assistant professor after graduation. His dissertation received the AEESP Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award in 2004. At Yale, he serves as the faculty advisor for the Yale Student Chapter of Engineers without Borders. In 2007, he won a NSF CAREER Award. He moved to Stanford University as an associate professor in 2013.
Employing a fundamental understanding of organic chemical reaction pathways, his research explores links between public health, engineering and sustainability. Topics of current interest include:
Public Health and Emerging Carcinogens: Recent changes to the disinfection processes fundamental to drinking and recreational water safety are creating a host of highly toxic byproducts linked to bladder cancer. We seek to understand how these compounds form so we can adjust the disinfection process to prevent their formation.
Global Warming and Oceanography: Oceanic dissolved organic matter is an important global carbon component, and has important impacts on the net flux of CO2 between the ocean and atmosphere. We seek to understand some of the important abiotic chemical reaction pathways responsible for carbon turnover.
Sustainability and Persistant Organic Pollutants (POPs): While PCBs have been banned in the US, we continue to produce a host of structurally similar chemicals. We seem to understand important chemical pathways responsible for POP destruction in the environment, so we can design less persistent and problematic chemicals in the future.
Engineering for Sustainable Wastewater Recycling: The shortage of clean water represents a critical challenge for the next century, and has necessitated the recycling of wastewater. We seek to understand ways of engineer this process in ways to minimize harmful byproduct formation.
Carbon Sequestration: We are evaluating the formation of nitrosamine and nitraminecarcinogens from amine-based carbon capture, as well as techniques to destroy any of these byproducts that form.