northeastern university seal

Amy Mueller, Assistant Professor in Marine and Environmental Sciences and Civil and Environmental Engineering, has been awarded a $50,000 seed grant to investigate a new, ultra-low-cost method of monitoring urban water systems. Dr. Mueller and collaborators are exploring how low-cost textured films – similar to those used to create an iridescent look on toys and handbags – could be leveraged as spectrophotometers in certain applications. If effective, this method could be utilized as a low-cost, remote detection of chemical anomalies in municipal water infrastructure.

Mueller’s collaborator on the project, UMaine Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering Dr. Caitlin Howell, has been investigating how these iridescent low-cost textured films may detect changes in the amount of materials deposited on surfaces. Dr. Mueller’s team contributes an extensive knowledge of storm- and wastewater monitoring and machine learning to the project. Together, this work could lead to new methods of providing critical data to stakeholders and managers of urban water systems.

This partnership is supported by a new seed grant initiative which aims to promote collaboration between Northeastern University and the University of Maine.


See full announcement.


About Amy Mueller

Amy Mueller headshotAssistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Marine and Environmental Sciences, College of Engineering and College of Science

Professor Mueller’s research combines the development of electronic and electrochemical sensors with science-aware machine learning to build systems for monitoring and maintaining water quality. Her Environmental Sensors Lab integrates the work of engineers and scientists to address a variety of environmental challenges. Together they are developing new sensors, instruments, and signal processing strategies to optimize their ability to study the natural and built environments.  

A primary focus is the automation and optimization of urban water infrastructure and aquaculture systems to reduce pollutant flows into urban and coastal water bodies. Mueller is collaborating on a project funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to develop miniaturized sensors to monitor water quality in offshore, closed-pen fish farms, with potential impact on New England’s food economy. She is also principal investigator for the United States Geological Survey’s Water Resources Research Institute. 

Mueller earned a PhD in environmental chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.