Contact Information:

Isabel C. Escobar, PhD

Professor of Chemical & Materials Engineering

(859) 257-7990 (phone)

763D Anderson Tower (FPAT)

University of Kentucky


Picture of Isabel Escobar

Isabel Escobar Isabel Escobar is a Professor in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky. Dr. Escobar's research focuses on developing and/or improving polymeric membrane materials for water treatment and water reuse operations. In the field of membrane separations, she has been the PI of numerous membrane research projects. Among her current projects is work on (1) low-fouling membranes using temperature-sensitive polymers activated using superparamagnetic iron nanoparticles; (2) anti-biofouling membranes; (3) biofouling mechanisms; (4) nanoparticle fouling mechanisms; (5) polybenzoimidizole forward osmosis membranes; and (6) biomimetic membranes.

In 2009, Isabel Escobar was awarded the Northwest Ohio YWCA Milestone Award for Education, The University of Toledo College of Engineering Outstanding Teacher Award, and the Toledo 20 Under 40 Leadership award. Also in 2009, she became the Associate Editor of Environmental Progress and Sustainable Energy Journal, a quarterly publication of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. In 2011, she received the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Separations Division FRI/John G. Kunesh Award.

Isabel Escobar and her research group have published over 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals, and have made over 100 presentations at national/international conferences. She has edited two books, Sustainable Water for the Future—Water Recycling versus Desalination (ISBN: 9780444531155) and Modern Applications in Membrane Science and Technology (ISBN: 9780841226180). Escobar Chaired the 2006 American Water Works Association (AWWA) Desalination Symposium Chair, Honolulu, Hawaii, 21-22 May 2006; the NAMS 2007 Annual Meeting Chair, Orlando, FL, 11-16 May 2007; and the NAMS 2012 Annual Meeting Chair, New Orleans, LA, 9-13 June 2012. Isabel will be co-chairing the ECI Advanced Membrane Technology VII conference in 2016.

In September of 2015, she gave a TEDx talk on Biologically-Inspired Sustainable Water Treatment. The talk can be viewed here.

During the 2014 water crisis in Lake Erie, Isabel Escobar participated in responding to the issues, and made numerous media appearances: 

Wall Street Journal Lunch Break What’s an Algal Bloom?

Wall Street Journal Algae Blooms Making Toledo Water Undrinkable Are Thriving

Wall Street Journal Algae's Return Deals Setback to Lake Erie's Revival

13ABC News Why is the Toledo water crisis happening?

13ABC News Why are water test results taking so long?

The Sound of Ideas (WVIZ, 90.3WCRN (NPR), WCLV 104.9)

NPR Isabel Escobar on Toledo Water Ban

The Relevant University Understanding the water problems in Toledo

Toledo Free Press Experts address Lake Erie’s toxic algae at forum

WTOL 11 CBS Comparing tap water to pool water: What the numbers mean

Al Jazeera America Tonight Isabel Escobar discussing Algae on Lake Erie

Conklin & Company (13ABC) Part 1 and Part 2 Panel discussion on water quality

La Prensa Experts discuss water crisis at UT public forum

13ABC Using water filters after the crisis 

13ABC Water quality improves around the Toledo intake 

WJR 760AM The Relevant University 

Dr. Escobar holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Central Florida; an M.S. in Environmental Engineering, University of Central Florida and a B.S. in Environmental Engineering, University of Central Florida. She was also an EPA STAR Fellow.

Dr. Escobar's research can be tracked using Google Scholar, ORCID, and Research Gate