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Eric Hoek tapped to lead UCLA’s Sustainable LA Grand Challenge

  • Eric Hoek tapped to lead UCLA’s Sustainable Grand Challenge
    Eric Hoek named faculty director of the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge at UCLA. Credit: Daniel Leibowitz

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UCLA is known worldwide for the breadth and quality of its academic, research, health care, cultural, continuing education and athletics programs

Eric Hoek, professor of civil and environmental engineering in the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering and member of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, has been appointed faculty director of the UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge

Hoek is one of the original faculty founders of the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge, the university-wide endeavor that connects scholars across campus and partners outside of UCLA to make Los Angeles the first sustainable megacity by 2050.

In his new role, Hoek will provide vision and leadership, and grow partnerships with faculty and stakeholders from the government, academic, business, philanthropic and nonprofit sectors.

“This is a full circle moment for me,” Hoek said. “Seven years ago, I was part of a group of faculty who sat down to brainstorm what UCLA could achieve for sustainability if we worked together. Since then, the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge has accomplished more than we ever thought was possible. But the stakes are even higher today. I’m honored to have this opportunity to accelerate UCLA’s impact and create a more sustainable future for Los Angeles.”

Launched in 2013, the long-term goals of the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge are to achieve 100% renewable energy, 100% local water and enhanced ecosystem health for Los Angeles County by 2050.

Hoek’s academic research explores the formation and application of membrane technologies for production of clean water and energy, and protection of human health and the environment — all key elements of a more sustainable future. His vision for the wastewater treatment plan of the future — one that transforms waste into energy, fertilizer and clean water — was one of the first research projects envisioned and funded by the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge.

Hoek joined the faculty of UC Riverside in 2002. In 2004, he came to UCLA, climbing the ranks from assistant professor to full professor. In 2014, he took leave to serve as CEO of Water Planet, which was an award-winning water technology company established around Hoek’s innovative technologies that led to the creation of three spinoff companies. In 2018, Hoek returned to UCLA full-time to resume his role as an engineering professor. He is also a member of the California NanoSystems Institute.

“In his work as an academic and entrepreneur, Eric has a track record of pushing for new innovations that can have an ever-greater impact on the world,” said Roger Wakimoto, UCLA vice chancellor for research. “This perspective is invaluable as UCLA pursues ambitious sustainability goals for Los Angeles and strives to be an example for other cities.”

Hoek has more than 130 peer-reviewed scientific publications and more than 70 patents filed globally. He is the editor-in-chief of the journal npj Clean Water, which is published by Nature. He holds a doctorate in chemical and environmental engineering from Yale University, a master’s in science in civil and environmental engineering from UCLA, and a bachelor’s of science in civil and environmental engineering from Penn State. Hoek has also completed UCLA Anderson’s executive management programs.

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