Engineering’s ‘O’Reilly Factor’

Auburn alumnus Andy O'Reilly joins faculty in geology and geological engineering

Andy O'Reilly

Andy O’Reilly

Andrew “Andy” O’Reilly may not have attended the University of Mississippi, but the new assistant professor of geology and geological engineering is more than pleased to be part of the UM faculty.

“Ole Miss has a growing, respected ABET-accredited program in geological engineering that allows me to combine my broad engineering/design skills from my civil engineering background and my expertise in the hydrological and geological sciences developed at the U.S. Geological Survey,” said O’Reilly, a product of Auburn University and the University of Central Florida. “Additionally, the collegiality and breadth of expertise of the faculty in the department and the emphasis on student engagement, both in teaching and research, were very attractive.”

O’Reilly taught ENG 645 (Contaminant Transport) this fall. In the spring, he will teach GE 503 (Environmental Geochemistry) and assist in teaching GE 421 (Geological Engineering Design). Previously, he was a teaching assistant at Auburn and a USGS hydrologist for 21 years before entering academia.

“While at the U.S. Geological Survey and as a Ph.D. candidate at UCF, I was closely involved in the development of a new storm water best management practice,” O’Reilly said. “The new BMP utilizes an innovative storm water infiltration basin and biosorption activated media, a functionalized soil amendment to reduce inputs of nitrogen and phosphorus to groundwater.”

The jointly funded, collaborative effort combined the unique expertise and contributions of academia with those of federal, state and local science and resource management agencies. The new BMP is continuing to effectively reduce nutrient loading to groundwater and has served as a model for additional applications of similar nutrient reduction technology.

“The study was particularly meaningful to me because it linked research and application, culminating in the design and construction of a functioning facility,” O’Reilly said.

O’Reilly is a welcome addition to the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, colleagues said.

“He brings two decades of experience with the U.S. Geological Survey out of Florida, where he worked with regional groundwater models and efforts to protect the state’s water resources,” said Gregg Davidson, chair and professor of geology and geological engineering. “The addition of Dr. O’Reilly strengthens our areas of expertise in hydrogeology and engineering.”

O’Reilly said his professional goals include continuing his geoenvironmental subfield research, focusing on processes in shallow, heterogeneous geologic environments in Earth’s critical zone that govern aquifer recharge and groundwater quality.

“I endeavor to use knowledge gained from my research to develop and implement engineering solutions for maintaining and enhancing groundwater quantity and quality while fostering sustainable development within a wide range of geoenvironmental challenges facing society,” he said.

O’Reilly and his wife, Kelli, have a daughter, Felicity. He enjoys bonsai and amateur astronomy.

He summed up his ultimate goal for his UM tenure as follows:

“I want to provide opportunities for young engineers and scientists to achieve their full potential by passing along what I have learned in my experiences within and outside academia in an effort to always link research and application via teaching and societal engagement.”