Skip to main content
Ryerson Urban Water
Dr. Andrew Laursen

Andrew Laursen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biology at Ryerson University. His primary research interests surround the study of ecosystem function, both natural and human made. In particular, Dr. Laursen is interested in how systems respond to disturbances such as storms, land-use change, or biological invasion.

His research runs the gamut from microbial ecology and effects of small scale variations on microbial activities, to whole-ecosystem measurements of biogeochemical processes, allowing a better understanding of ecosystem function across a range of temporal and spatial scales. This is currently directed to better understand how retention ponds built as part of storm water infrastructure are functioning, and how this function may be improved.

His research group is also engaged in watershed-scale modeling to assess how a whole river network might respond to land use and climate change scenarios. Dr. Laursen has supervised 22 Master students and 2 PhD students, published 21 peer reviewed scientific articles and more than 50 conference abstracts. Dr. Laursen is a passionate teacher, and a recent recipient of the Provost’s Innovative Teaching Award and Dean’s Teaching Award.   

Environmental Science Graduate Student Aslam Hanief

One of Dr. Laursen’s current projects involves the company WCI Environmental Solutions and the study of a novel technology for treatment of storm water. We bumped into Dr. Laursen the other day and he was very enthusiastic and about this research project and had much to say about the WCI technology.

What interested you about WCI technology?

The EOS-2000 can increase the availability of dissolved oxygen in water, which can in turn enhance digestion of organic sediment and sludge. Retention ponds are an important element of storm water management. Enhancing sediment digestion may allow less frequent dredging, which could mean significant savings in maintenance costs for these ponds.

The technology is intriguing, it uses a resonant frequency generator, transmitting a signal through water. It does not create the mechanical disturbance to a pond that conventional aeration introduces, and the device is off-grid, operating from a solar panel.

What were some of the challenges that you faced with this research project?

It was not understood how the technology worked to increase oxygen availability. Our research has helped to clarify the mechanism by which this technology increases available oxygen, and potentially supports higher respiration rates.

What are some of the key findings?

In a pilot study, we found that treatment with the EOS-2000 corresponded with greater oxygen availability, more culturable heterotrophic bacteria in sediments, and a decrease in volume of sediment in the pond. The relevance of such a finding is that this equipment may facilitate sludge degradation and possibly offer cost savings to municipalities. 

Our current project compares a treated pond to a reference pond and should shed greater light on how the technology affects biogeochemistry and nutrient retention in storm water ponds, and sediment dynamics (deposition versus digestion). We have been fortunate to work with staff at Toronto Water who provided access to sites and excellent discussions on the findings of our research.

Field Work
Dr. Laursen's Graduate Students
Field Work
Dr. Andrew Laursen