• Associate Director, Global Change and Sustainability Center, Vp For Research
  • Adjunct Professor, Civil And Environmental Engin

Research Summary

Dr. Burian is the Project Director of the USAID-funded U.S.-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Water at the University of Utah. His research group has contributed new approaches for designing urban water infrastructure, innovative urban databases and water modeling techniques, sustainable solutions for distributed water-energy-food systems in cities, and practical adaptation strategies for water managers facing aging infrastructure and climate change.


Steven J. Burian received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Notre Dame and a Masters in Environmental Engineering and a Doctorate in Civil Engineering from The University of Alabama. Steve’s professional career spans more than a decade during which he has worked in design engineering, as a Scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, as a professor at the University of Arkansas and the University of Utah, and as a Director of a consulting firm he co-founded. He is a registered professional engineer in Utah.

Steve has accumulated expertise related to the planning and engineering of sustainable and resilient urban water resources systems including water supply, stormwater management, and wastewater collection. Specialty areas of research, teaching, and consulting include integrated urban water management, low-impact development, green infrastructure design, stormwater and urban stream management, flood modeling and consequence assessment, climate change impacts on urban water systems, climate adaptation of cities, and the water-energy nexus. Steve’s research projects have been funded by National Laboratories, EPA, NSF, DOD, DOE, State Departments of Transportation, and Private Industry. Steve has authored or co-authored more than 50 peer-reviewed publications, more than 60 conference papers and project reports, and delivered several software packages and databases used throughout the world. One of Steve’s recent co-authored publications was awarded the 2011 Glen L. Martin Best Paper Award for the Civil Engineering Division of American Society of Engineering Educators (ASEE).

In his current position as Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Utah, Steve teaches courses in the areas of Hydrology, Hydraulics, Stormwater Management, Sustainability, Professional Practice and Design, Watershed and Flood Modeling, and Water Resources Planning and Management. In his teaching, Steve seeks to inspire students with engaging classroom activities and discussions and through opportunities for project-based and service learning. Steve is also currently serving as the Co-Director of Sustainability Curriculum Development at the University of Utah with the goal of developing new interdisciplinary sustainability degree certificates, minors, and majors. His work is leading to the introduction of the first interdisciplinary Undergraduate Sustainability Certificate at the University of Utah. 

Steve’s service has spanned technical, educational, and volunteer pursuits. He is actively involved with several professional societies including the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), American Meteorological Society (AMS), American Water Resources Association (AWRA), Water Environment Federation (WEF), American Geophysical Union (AGU), and ASEE. He is currently chairing the ASCE EWRI Rainwater Harvesting technical committee, serving on steering committees for the Utah Section of AWRA and at the University of Utah Global Change and Ecosystems Center and Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program. And since 2006 he has served as an Assistant Mentor and Mentor for the annual ASCE ExCEEd Teaching Workshop.