James Levis

Research Assistant Professor

Dr. James 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

  • Fulbright Scholar - Danish Technical University, 2019
  • RTI University Scholar, 2018
  • 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
  • ,


What Is the Best End Use for Compost Derived from the Organic Fraction of Municipal Solid Waste?
Sardarmehni, M., Levis, J. W., & Barlaz, M. A. (2021), ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, 55(1), 73–81. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.0c04997
An Assessment of the Dynamic Global Warming Impact Associated with Long-Term Emissions from Landfills
Wang, Y., Levis, J. W., & Barlaz, M. A. (2020), ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, 54(3), 1304–1313. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.9b04066
Application of LCA modelling in integrated waste management
Christensen, T. H., Damgaard, A., Levis, J., Zhao, Y., Bjorklund, A., Arena, U., … Bisinella, V. (2020), WASTE MANAGEMENT, 118, 313–322. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2020.08.034
Exploring alternative solid waste management strategies for achieving policy goals
Jaunich, M. K., Levis, J. W., DeCarolis, J. F., Barlaz, M. A., & Ranjithan, S. R. (2020), ENGINEERING OPTIMIZATION. https://doi.org/10.1080/0305215X.2020.1759578
Approaches to fill data gaps and evaluate process completeness in LCA—perspectives from solid waste management systems
Henriksen, T., Levis, J. W., Barlaz, M. A., & Damgaard, A. (2019), The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 24(9), 1587–1601. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-019-01592-z
Economics of Enhancing Nutrient Circularity in an Organic Waste Valorization System
Cobo, S., Levis, J. W., Dominguez-Ramos, A., & Irabien, A. (2019), Environmental Science & Technology, 53(11), 6123–6132. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.8b06035
Solid Waste Management Policy Implications on Waste Process Choices and Systemwide Cost and Greenhouse Gas Performance
Jaunich, M. K., Levis, J. W., DeCarolis, J. F., Barlaz, M. A., & Ranjithan, S. R. (2019), Environmental Science & Technology, 53(4), 1766–1775. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.8b04589
Application and testing of risk screening tools for nanomaterial risk analysis
Grieger, K., Bossa, N., Levis, J. W., von Borries, K. J. F., Strader, P., Cuchiara, M., … Jones, J. L. (2018), Environmental Science: Nano, 5(8), 1844–1858. https://doi.org/10.1039/C8EN00518D
A review of the airborne and waterborne emissions from uncontrolled solid waste disposal sites
Levis, J. W., Weisbrod, A., Van Hoof, G., & Barlaz, M. A. (2017), Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, 47(12), 1003–1041. https://doi.org/10.1080/10643389.2017.1342513
Application of a Life Cycle Model for European Union Policy-Driven Waste Management Decision Making in Emerging Economies
Stanisavljevic, N., Levis, J. W., & Barlaz, M. A. (2017), Journal of Industrial Ecology, 22(2), 341–355. https://doi.org/10.1111/jiec.12564

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Development of a Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Systems Analysis Tool (SAT) to Assist in Prioritization of Destruction Research and Management Decisions
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)(6/11/20 - 9/30/20)
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)
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 - 2/28/19)
Development of a Predictive Model to Estimate Emissions from Open Dumps in Emerging Economies
Procter & Gamble(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 - 11/30/19)
Renewable Paving Binders from Top-lit Updraft Kilning of Biomass
National Science Foundation (NSF)(6/15/15 - 5/31/21)
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 - 7/31/20)