ESE’s Singer wins AEESP award for teaching, mentoring, research
June 10, 2013
Dr. Philip Singer

Dr. Philip Singer

Philip C. Singer, PhD, has been selected as recipient of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors’ (AEESP) 2013 Charles R. O’Melia Distinguished Educator Award.

Singer, professor emeritus in the Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering (ESE), was Daniel A. Okun Distinguished Professor of Environmental Engineering from 2002 until his retirement in 2011. He joined the Gillings School faculty in 1973.

The AEESP award, which recognizes environmental engineering or science professors who have established and maintained records of excellence in teaching, advising, mentoring and research, will be presented at a July 16 banquet during the 50th anniversary AEESP conference in Golden, Colo.

“I can think of no one better deserving of the Charles R. O’Melia Distinguished Educator Award than Phil Singer,” said Michael Aitken, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the Gillings School, in his nomination letter.

“Phil’s excellence as a teacher and mentor has been acknowledged in many ways throughout his career,” Aitken said.

Singer won departmental awards for teaching excellence in 1974, 1996 and 2006, and won two prestigious Schoolwide awards – the McGavran Award for Excellence in Teaching (1983) and the Greenberg Award for Excellence in Teaching, Research and Service (1997), in addition to numerous professional awards.

“Over his career, Phil has served as primary adviser for 18 doctoral and 99 master’s students and served on countless student committees in the School and across the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,” Aitken said.

“His students are now in positions of leadership in academic institutions, in consulting and in the water industry […] and they continue to seek him out for advice. His extraordinary mentorship has been manifested in the many awards his students have won, particularly through the American Water Works Association,” Aitken said.

When Singer announced his pending retirement, former students, colleagues and friends were among those who enthusiastically pledged to a fund for an endowed professorship in Singer’s name.

“That’s one of the most illustrative examples of how highly our former students regard him,” Aitken said.

O’Melia, for whom the AEESP award is named, was a giant in the environmental sciences and engineering field and a leading expert in aquatic chemistry and water treatment. He spent most of his career at Johns Hopkins University, but was also on the Gillings School’s ESE faculty from 1966 to 1981. O’Melia died in 2010.

“This award is very special to me,” Singer said, “because Charlie was my mentor at UNC and was a good friend. He was a gifted teacher and served as a role model throughout my career. He was responsible for bringing me to UNC in 1973, and for helping me to achieve the many things I have accomplished, both professionally and personally. I am indebted to him in so many ways, and it is special for me to be connected to him once again through this award.”


Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or


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