College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

From International Construction to Aquatic Chemistry: CCEE Welcomes Two New Faculty

joe charbonnet headshot

As the Iowa State University Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering (CCEE) begins a new semester, two new faculty members are welcomed to CCEE.

Joseph (Joe) Charbonnet, assistant professor in environmental engineering, and Steven Johnson, professor of practice in construction engineering, both began their faculty positions this semester. 

Joseph (Joe) Charbonnet

joe charbonnet headshot
CCEE assistant professor Joe Charbonnet

Charbonnet received his masters and doctorate degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and his bachelor of science degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology. With a passion for teaching and expanding the minds of students, Charbonnet has built a plethora of teaching experience.

And when it comes to research, Charbonnet says that CCEE is the perfect place for him to conduct his studies.

“The state of Iowa is a powerhouse for innovative environmental chemistry research, and I’m thrilled to be part of this innovation ecosystem.” Charbonnet said. “I’m also glad to be part of a growing and supportive department with colleagues who are brilliant, friendly, and committed to the quality of education and research befitting a world-class institution.”

Charbonnet’s focus is environmental engineering, and his specialty and passions revolve around aquatic chemistry. His research areas include emerging organic contaminants including PFAS (Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances), flame retardants and biocides, remediation of nutrients and toxic metals, water and stormwater reuse and novel materials for water treatment.

“A particular focus of mine are PFAS, the so-called “forever chemicals” found in water- and stain-repellents,” Charbonnet said. “But I also study nutrients, metals and toxic flame retardants found in stormwater, wastewater and drinking water.”

Through Charbonnet’s research, he studies the chemicals in water that make people and ecosystems sick. In past research, he has developed new technologies and new techniques for detecting and destroying contaminants.


Steven Johnson

CCEE professor Steve Johnson
CCEE professor Steve Johnson

Returning to where it all started, Johnson graduated from Iowa State with a bachelors degree in construction engineering in February of 1979. After graduating, Johnson proceeded to be the first college graduate engineer hired by a design/build construction firm in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Shortly after, Johnson was promoted to a project manager, where he ran his own design/build projects. Johnson then gained over 40 years of construction experience, from managing his own projects to managing groups and building projects all around the world.

“The majority of my career was spent in building construction working for small, medium and large general contractors,” Johnson said. “I seemed to be strongly suited toward managing people, which is what I loved the most. Developing teams and personnel to be the best in the construction profession is a passion for me.”

Johnson spent the last 24 years with a company called Swinerton, where he retired as their Senior Vice President and Regional Manager for Northern California, managing over $1 billion of annual construction work.

“I have been so fortunate to have experienced such a wide variety of construction building types, sizes, geographic locations, and above all, to have known the wonderful people that I have had the great fortune to meet in all these years,” Johnson said. “I firmly believe that all of that experience will provide the students at Iowa State an opportunity to hear and learn about how the construction profession will influence their lives when they leave to develop their own careers.”