Creativity Prize - 10th Award


The team of Dionysios Dionysiou – University of Cincinnati

The work of Dr. Dionysios Dionysiou and his team focuses on emerging technologies – particularly the development of advanced oxidation technologies and nanotechnologies – for removing difficult to treat pollutants in water, regional issues such as problems of harmful algae blooms, excessive nutrients in non-point sources of water, and emerging pollutants such as pharmaceuticals and personal care product residues in source waters.

They have conducted pioneering research in the development of advanced functional materials with precise architectures and tailor-designed functionalities that are active under ambient conditions or solar light. Their innovative research has elucidated the degradation pathways of various types of contaminants such as pharmaceuticals, naturally occurring cyanotoxins, pesticides, and a variety of industrial solvents, producing impactful work on kinetics, mechanisms, and toxicity elimination of various toxic chemicals in water.

More recent work focuses on collaborations in the development of novel nano-biosensors for the detection of cyanotoxins and nano-interfacial phenomena in physical-chemical processes for water treatment.

Team members include Abdulaziz Al Anazi, Jiong Gao, Vasileia Vogiazi, Wael Abdelraheem, and Ying Huang.

Winner Profile

Dr. Dionysios Dionysiou

Dr. Dionysiou is a Herman Schneider Professor of Environmental Engineering and Distinguished Research Professor-STEM at the University of Cincinnati.


• 2001 – Ph.D; University of Cincinnati (Environmental Engineering)
• 1995 – M.S.; Tufts University (Chemical Engineering)
• 1991 – Diploma; National Technical University of Athens (Chemical Engineering)

Selected Awards:

2021 – W. Wesley Eckenfelder Graduate Research Faculty Advisor Award (2021) for Outstanding Lifetime Achievements in the Advancement of Environmental Protection
2019 – Award of Achievement as Distinguished Scientist under the Chinese Academy of Sciences President's International Fellowship Initiative
2018 – Royal Society of Chemistry, Sustainable Water Award
2017 – Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors Distinguished Service Award
2017 – Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award
2010 – College of Engineering Distinguished Engineering Researcher Award
2009 – College of Engineering Distinguished Engineering Researcher Award
2008 – Excellence in Review Award, Environmental Science and Technology (American Chemical Society)
2005– National Science Foundation CAREER Award
2005 – DuPont Young Professor Award
2004 – Who’s Who in America 2004, The Marquis Who’s Who Publication Board
2004 – Distinguished Junior Faculty Research Award Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Cincinnati
2002 – American Water Works Association’s First Place 2002 Academic Achievement Award for Best Dissertation
2001 – Journal of Environmental Engineering Editor’s Award, American Society of Civil Engineers



Acceptance Speech

dionysios300x300 Dear Honorable Representatives of the The Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water (PSIPW) and the UN Organizations; Dear Distinguished Guests:

I would like to thank His Royal Highness King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for being the patron of the PSIPW award ceremony. I am extremely grateful to the Prize Council for selecting my team as one of the recipients of the creativity prize for our work on water treatment using advanced oxidation technologies and nanotechnologies as well as selective nanosensors.

I would like to introduce my co-recipient award team, Dr. Abdulaziz Al Anazi (who is in the audience), Dr. Jiong Gao, Dr. Vasileia Vogiazi, Dr. Wael Abdelraheem, and Dr. Ying Huang. I thank them for their contribution and dedication.

Our work has been inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with a special focus on Goal #6 – clean water and sanitation.

Work in our group has focused on the development of advanced oxidation technologies and nanotechnologies for the removal of legacy contaminants and contaminants of emerging concern in water treatment and water reuse applications.

Examples of contaminants of emerging concern we have focused or are currently focusing in my team include pharmaceuticals and personal care products, pesticides, pathogenic microorganisms, algal toxins, and perfluorinated chemicals (PFAS) which threaten environmental water resources, the safety of drinking water, and water reuse scenarios, especially in arid climates around the world. Such problems are exacerbated by the effect of climate change.

In our group, we have developed a number of advanced nanotechnologies including photocatalysts that can harvest solar light and degrade micropollutants in water. Specifically, our recent work has focused on novel modification of light activated catalysts to extend their absorption to the visible light spectrum. Solar light is plentiful in many countries around the world, including counties in the middle East and other regions of arid climate.

We have also developed novel sorbents for selective separation and recovery (for example nutrients such as phosphate) as well as catalytically active membrane systems to filter out and destroy toxins in water.

Significant effort of our work has focused on technologies based on the generation of selective reactive oxygen species such as sulfate radicals that can destroy target pollutants through selective pathways.

Finally, we have developed nanotechnologies with reusable materials that can destroy pollutants through oxidation or reduction pathways and finally eliminate initial toxicity.

We have also studied homogeneous UV-based advanced oxidation processes as a finishing step in water treatment for water reuse applications. Our work showed that such processes are effective in destroying organic pollutants of concern.

Our efforts included impacts of other water quality constituents, reaction kinetics, mechanism of degradation of pollutants, and toxicity evaluation of the treated water.

Our studies generate knowledge useful to water treatment professionals to optimize and predict treatment performance as a function of influent quality. Our investigations into the reaction kinetics and mechanisms are helpful to improve the efficiency of the treatment process. Our research on the biological endpoints delivers practical information on the potential human and ecological impacts of the effluent.

In-situ, on-line, and real time sensing for various pollutants is a key objective of water treatment utilities and environmental agencies around the world.

In our team, we have developed highly selective electrochemical sensors based on aptamers for the detection and quantification of toxins at concentrations well below the guideline values of the World Health Organization and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Through data provided by such sensors, water treatment utilities will have opportunity to apply proactive measures and effectively optimize treatment performance and achieve good quality of treated water.

In Conclusion, and on behalf of my team, it is such a great honor to accept the PSIPW Creativity Prize today. This acknowledgement and support will provide further encouragement to my team and collaborators to continue down the pathway of sustainable water treatment and reuse.

Thank you for your participation and attention.

Winning Work

[1] Wael H.M. Abdelraheem, Mallikarjuna N. Nadagouda, Dionysios D. Dionysiou, Solar light-assisted remediation of domestic wastewater by NB-TiO2 nanoparticles for potable reuse, Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, Volume 269, 2020, 118807, ISSN 0926-3373.

[2] Abdulaziz Al-Anazi, Wael H. Abdelraheem, Kirk Scheckel, Mallikarjuna N. Nadagouda, Kevin O'Shea, Dionysios D. Dionysiou, Novel franklinite-like synthetic zinc-ferrite redox nanomaterial: synthesis, and evaluation for degradation of diclofenac in water, Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, Volume 275, 2020, 119098, ISSN 0926-3373.

[3] Jiong Gao, Jie Song, Jinshao Ye, Xiaodi Duan, Dionysios D. Dionysiou, Jagjit S. Yadav, Mallikarjuna N. Nadagouda, Lixia Yang, Shenglian Luo, Comparative toxicity reduction potential of UV/sodium percarbonate and UV/hydrogen peroxide treatments for bisphenol A in water: An integrated analysis using chemical, computational, biological, and metabolomic approaches., Water Research, Volume 190, 2021, 116755, ISSN 0043-1354.

[4] Ying Huang, Changseok Han, Yiqing Liu, Mallikarjuna N. Nadagouda, Libor Machala, Kevin E. O’Shea, Virender K. Sharma, Dionysios D. Dionysiou, Degradation of atrazine by ZnxCu1−xFe2O4 nanomaterial-catalyzed sulfite under UV–vis light irradiation: Greenstrategy to generate SO4−, Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, Volume 221, 2018, Pages 380-392, ISSN 0926-3373.

[5] Vasileia Vogiazi, Armah A. de la Cruz, Eunice A. Varughese, William R. Heineman, Ryan J. White, and Dionysios D. Dionysiou, Sensitive Electrochemical Detection of Microcystin-LR in Water Samples Via Target-Induced Displacement of Aptamer Associated [Ru(NH3)6]3+, ACS ES&T Engineering, 2021 1 (11), 1597-1605.

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