William P. Ball

Research and Professional Interests

Professor Ball has research interests and on-going projects in various areas of environmental engineering, with emphasis on physical and chemical processes affecting water quality, in both natural environments and engineered processes of treatment. One current major interest is on the development and application of appropriate and sustainable technologies for developing nations, with focus on water resources, drinking water, and sanitation, including projects currently underway by doctoral student advisees Laura MacDonald and Christopher Kelleyin collaboration with GWP members Kellogg Schwab, Maria-Elena FigueroaErica SchoenbergerAlain Labrique, their students, and various other U.S. and international colleagues. This work includes a research project to better understand the factors affecting the “inception-to-implementation” process for initiatives that strive to provide safe drinking water at the household level in developing countries (MacDonald) and another research project aimed at providing better tools for understanding of the historical and spatial landscape of prior technical interventions and outcomes for water and sanitation provision within developing regions (Kelley).

Professor Ball is also involved with two major projects that address emerging water quality concerns in the U.S. These include projects for the development of (1) better cyber-enabled approaches for analyzing and understanding water quality observations in the Chesapeake Bay, as part of a multi-investigator NSF-funded effort to develop and apply a prototypical "Chesapeake Bay Environmental Observatory(CBEO); and (2) better understanding of the potential environmental impact and fate of carbon-based nanomaterials in aquatic systems, with focus on multi-walled carbon nanotubes (currently funded through the NSF and the U.S. EPA). As principal investigator for the CBEO project, Professor Ball coordinates the activities of nine investigators at seven institutions, while also working closely with doctoral student advisee Rebecca Murphy on a research project to make better use of archived water quality data for better understanding the relationships between nutrient loadings, stratification, and hypoxia in the Chesapeake Bay. Meanwhile, the work on environmental fate and effects of carbon nanotubes involves doctoral advisee Jin Yang and is conducted in collaboration with Professor Howard Fairbrother, Professor Kai Loon Chen, and their students, and is coordinated through JHU’s Institute for Nanobiotechnology. Professor Ball is also collaborating with Professor Hilpert and his student, Yaqi You, on a research project related to the processes affecting antibiotic resistance transport in the environment, and with GWP Program Manager Luke MacDonald and Professors Grace Brush, Darryn WaughBen Zaitchik, Seth GuikemaKimberly Jones, and others to submit a proposal for an interdisciplinary graduate education and research (IGERT) program in the area of water, climate, and health.

Selected Publications:

  • Kelley, Christopher D., Alexander Krolick, Logan Brunner, Alison Burklund, Daniel Kahn, William P. Ball, and Monroe Weber-Shirk. "An Affordable Open-Source Turbidimeter." Sensors 14, no. 4 (2014): 7142-7155. http://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/14/4/7142/htm
  • Yang, Jin, Julie L. Bitter, Billy A. Smith, D. Howard Fairbrother, and William P. Ball. "Transport of oxidized multi-walled carbon nanotubes through silica based porous media: Influences of aquatic chemistry, surface chemistry, and natural organic matter." Environmental science & technology 47, no. 24 (2013): 14034-14043. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es402448w
  • Zhang, Qian, Damian C. Brady, and William P. Ball. "Long-term seasonal trends of nitrogen, phosphorus, and suspended sediment load from the non-tidal Susquehanna River Basin to Chesapeake Bay." Science of the Total Environment 452 (2013): 208-221. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969713001757
  • Murphy, Rebecca R., W. Michael Kemp, and William P. Ball. "Long-term trends in Chesapeake Bay seasonal hypoxia, stratification, and nutrient loading." Estuaries and coasts 34, no. 6 (2011): 1293-1309. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12237-011-9413-7#page-1
  • Chen, Kai Loon, Billy A. Smith, William P. Ball, and D. Howard Fairbrother. "Assessing the colloidal properties of engineered nanoparticles in water: case studies from fullerene C60 nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes." Environmental Chemistry 7, no. 1 (2010): 10-27. http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/EN09112

Regional Experience:

Africa: South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Latin America: Equador, Guatemala

Research Tools:

Gas chromatography
Liquid chromatography
Liquid scintillation counting (radiolabelled tracer analysis)
Surface area analysis
Bench scale miscibile transport experiments
Various wet chemical water quality analyses
French oral:  fluent/working
French written:  working
Zulu oral:  minimal
Zulu written:  minimal/none

Themes Categories:

Water and Health
Water in the Environment

People Categories:

Leadership Committee
NSF IGERT Participant


William Ball, environmental engineering, water quality data