Jim Levis

Research Assistant Professor

Dr. James W. Levis is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at North Carolina State University. His research interests are in the area of environmental systems analysis and decision support. Dr. Levis is a member of the Environmental, Water Resources, and Coastal Engineering as well as the Computing and Systems faculty groups within Civil Engineering. His primary areas of teaching and research focus on solid waste management, sustainable resource management, life-cycle modeling, and optimization.

Presently he is developing and using a life-cycle optimization framework to analyze the interrelated effects of electricity and transportation systems and greenhouse gas policies on sustainable solid waste management and resource recovery using the Solid Waste Optimization Life-cycle Framework (SWOLF).  Dr. Levis is also co-developing an International Institute for Solid Waste Life-Cycle Modeling. He is also investigating the most sustainable ways to recover nutrients and energy from the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW), as well as exploring sustainable long-term management of MSW for local communities. Dr. Levis is also developing a dynamic life-cycle optimization model capable of estimating optimal configurations and process choices for photosynthetic bioreactors (PSBRs) used in microalgae-to-biofuel systems.

Dr. Levis teaches Engineering Principles of Solid Waste Management (CE477/577), as well as a graduate level course on Environmental Life-Cycle Assessment (CE796).

Dr. Levis’s research sponsors and collaborating agencies include the US EPA, NSF, Environmental Research and Education Foundation, and Wake County Solid Waste Management Division.


Ph.D. 2013

Civil Engineering

North Carolina State University

M.S. 2008

Civil Engineering

North Carolina State University

B.S. 2004

Mechanical Engineering

Carnegie Mellon University

Research Description

Dr. Levis is interested in development and use of novel life-cycle, simulation, and optimization models for decision support with primary applications related to integrated waste management, energy systems, and sustainable infrastructure.

Honors and Awards

  • Air & Waste Management Association 1st Place Dissertation Award, 2014
  • International Solid Waste Association Runner-up Publication Award, 2011
  • Environmental Science and Technology 2nd Runner-up Best Policy Analysis Paper, 2011
  • Environmental Science and Technology Top Ten Most Read Paper, 2011


Construction and setup of a bench-scale algal photosynthetic bioreactor with temperature, light, and ph monitoring for kinetic growth tests
Karam, A. L., McMillan, C. C., Lai, Y. C., de los Reyes, F. L., Sederoff, H. W., Grunden, A. M., Ranjithan, R. S., Levis, J. W., & Ducoste, J. J. (2017), Jove-Journal of Visualized Experiments, (124).
Life-cycle modeling of municipal solid waste landfills
Levis, J. W., & Barlaz, M. A. (2017), In Geotechnical frontiers 2017: waste containment, barriers, remediation, and sustainable geoengineering. (Geotechnical Special Publication, 276) (pp. 355-368).
Evaluation of externality costs in life-cycle optimization of municipal solid waste management systems
Martinez-Sanchez, V., Levis, J. W., Darrigaard, A., DeCarolis, J. F., Barlaz, M. A., & Astrup, T. F. (2017), Environmental Science & Technology, 51(6), 3119-3127.
National estimate of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) release to US municipal landfill leachate
Lang, J. R., Allred, B. M., Field, J. A., Levis, J. W., & Barlaz, M. A. (2017), Environmental Science & Technology, 51(4), 2197-2205.
Characterization of municipal solid waste collection operations
Jaunich, M. K., Levis, J. W., DeCarolis, J. F., Gaston, E. V., Barlaz, M. A., Bartelt-Hunt, S. L., Jones, E. G., Hauser, L., & Jaikumar, R. (2016), Resources Conservation and Recycling, 114, 92-102.
Systematic evaluation of industrial, commercial, and institutional food waste management strategies in the United States
Hodge, K. L., Levis, J. W., DeCarolis, J. F., & Barlaz, M. A. (2016), Environmental Science & Technology, 50(16), 8444-8452.
Analysis of material recovery facilities for use in life-cycle assessment
Pressley, P. N., Levis, J. W., Damgaard, A., Barlaz, M. A., & DeCarolis, J. F. (2015), Waste Management (New York, N.Y.), 35, 307-317.
Systematic exploration of efficient strategies to manage solid waste in US municipalities: Perspectives from the solid waste optimization life-cycle framework (SWOLF)
Levis, J. W., Barlaz, M. A., DeCarolis, J. F., & Ranjithan, S. R. (2014), Environmental Science & Technology, 48(7), 3625-3631.
A generalized multistage optimization modeling framework for life cycle assessment-based integrated solid waste management
Levis, J. W., Barlaz, M. A., DeCarolis, J. F., & Ranjithan, S. R. (2013), Environmental Modelling Review & Software: With Environmental Data News, 50, 51-65.
What is the most environmentally beneficial way to treat commercial food waste?
Levis, J. W., & Barlaz, M. A. (2011), Environmental Science & Technology, 45(17), 7438-7444.

View all publications via NC State Libraries

View publications on Google Scholar


Ensuring Smart and Sustainable Material and Energy Use through Real-Time Environmental Life-Cycle Assessment
RTI International (aka Research Triangle Institute)(1/02/18 - 12/31/18)
PINS# 79668 EMN-15-F-S-02 A Life-Cycle Cost and Analysis Framework for Peracetic Acid and Alternative Disinfectants
Eastman Chemical Company(6/01/17 - 10/02/18)
Development of a Life-Cycle Model for Open Dumps and Informal Waste Collection
RTI International (aka Research Triangle Institute)(10/14/16 - 9/30/17)
Development and Assessment of Cost-Effective Sustainable Integrated Organics Management Strategies
Environmental Research & Education Foundation(3/01/16 - 8/31/18)
Development of a Predictive Model to Estimate Emissions from Open Dumps in Emerging Economies
Procter & Gamble Co.(3/17/15 - 12/31/17)
Maximizing Energy for Waste While Minimizing Life-Cycle Environmental Burdens and Cost
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)(12/09/14 - 3/31/18)
Renewable Paving Binders from Top-lit Updraft Kilning of Biomass
National Science Foundation (NSF)(6/15/15 - 5/31/18)
Solid Waste Management Planning for Wake County in Consideration of Cost, Energy and Environmental Emissions
Wake County(7/01/14 - 12/31/17)
SAVI: International Institute for Solid Waste Management Life-Cycle Modeling
National Science Foundation (NSF)(8/15/14 - 7/31/18)