EREF’s Scholarship Program

Scholarships are awarded by EREF to recognize excellence in master’s and doctoral waste management research and education. Applications from students outside the United States or studying abroad will receive equal consideration.

Click here for a brochure on our named scholarships, including how you can contribute to this cause!

Fiessinger Doctoral Scholarship

Francois Fiessinger dedicated his professional life to furthering international research and technology development efforts in the areas of waste and water management. Francois was one of the founders of EREF in 1994. He served on the Board of Directors from its inception until he passed away in 1997. Francois was a visionary who believed in science and engineering as vehicles for improving the quality of our environment and our lives.
In 1997, based on a contribution from Lyonnaise des Eaux, the Francois Fiessinger Memorial Scholarship Fund was established to recognize excellence in Ph.D. environmental research and education.

EREF Doctoral Scholarship

As part of its mission, EREF furthers education in the solid waste management industry.  In the past, multiple outstanding candidates have applied for the Fiessinger award in the same year, prompting EREF to periodically utilize foundation funds to award additional scholarships.  EREF now regularly awards Ph.D. scholarships to notable candidates, expanding the scholarship program.

Robert P. Stearns/SCS Engineers Master’s Scholarship

Robert P. Stearns, Chairman and CoFounder of SCS Engineers, joined the EREF Board of Directors in 1999 and served as Chairman from 2004–2005. At SCS, he directed or served in a review capacity on many of the firm’s solid waste management-related projects. Under his leadership SCS grew to more than 500 employees located in 9 regional offices throughout the United States.
Following his retirement in 2006, Bob continued as SCS Chairman of the Board focusing on strategic planning and acquisitions. In 2007 EREF awarded the first Robert P. Stearns/SCS Engineers Master’s Scholarship, which was established to expand EREF’s successful doctoral-level scholarship program.

Robert J. Riethmiller/PTR Baler and Compactor Scholarship

Robert J. Riethmiller, Chairman of PTR Baler and Compactor, served on the EREF Board as the Chairman of the Scholarship Committee. Riethmiller’s grandfather, also Bob Riethmiller, began working for PTR in 1911, and purchased it in 1929; since then it has been a family-run business. PTR is a fourth generation, family-owned company that manufactures, installs and services balers and compactors in all 50 states and sells internationally. Now retired, Riethmiller worked in the waste industry for over 50 years.

Waste Industries Scholarship Honoring Lonnie C. Poole Jr.

Lonnie C. Poole, Jr., one of EREF’s founders and currently a Director Emeritus, is the founder of Raleigh-based Waste Industries USA, Inc. Lonnie, who grew up on a farm in North Carolina, was the first in his family to attend college. After graduating with a B.S. in Civil Engineering from North Carolina State University, he served as a pilot in the U.S. Army for three years, and then returned home to earn his MBA at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He then found success in the business world, excelling as both a sales manager and an engineer. In 1970 Lonnie founded Waste Industries, a non-hazardous solid waste services company, which now serves more than 1.25 million customers across five states.

Carl J. Apicella Scholarship

Carl Apicella is a strong supporter of EREF and is very active in EREF’s fundraisers.  Carl is President and founder of Continuum Environmental Services Ltd. and was formerly a founder and President of American Environmental Group, Ltd., both specialty environmental services companies focusing on the solid waste and landfill industry.  His 30 year career also includes working as a consultant and for Browning Ferris Industries (BFI) operating and managing solid waste landfills.

GMI Scholarship

The Garbageman’s Invitational was founded in 2010 by Kerry Holmes (Vice President of Sales, Consolidated Fabricators), Mike Melideo (Owner, Consolidated Fabricators) and Ray Burke (Vice President, Clean Energy). These three men set out to create a unique annual networking event for their customers and prospects in the solid waste and recycling industry throughout the United States and Canada.
The sponsors of the Garbageman’s Invitational felt strongly that there should be an element of “giving back” to the industry. “As the leader in solid waste research and education, EREF was an easy choice as the charity to benefit from the event,” said Kerry Holmes. “EREF, with its presence throughout North America, is well aligned with the Garbageman’s Invitational’s goal to attract more industry leaders throughout the United States and Canada.”
100% of any donations made to EREF through the Garbageman’s Invitational will fund graduate students pursuing excellence in solid waste management research and education.

Evergreen Surety Bond Scholarship

Founded specifically to serve the needs of the waste industry and contractors who need payment and performance bonds, Evergreen National Indemnity Company (Evergreen) has become an industry leader in surety bonds. Evergreen was one of the first firms to tackle the requirements of Subtitle D and is frequently called upon to give recommendations to regulators and rating agencies on surety issues.

Reinhart Master’s Scholarship

Debbie Reinhart, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE is a Pegasus Professor and Assistant Vice President for Research and Commercialization at the University of Central Florida. From 2011-2013 she served as the Environmental Engineering Program Manager at the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C. She received her graduate degrees in Environmental Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to joining UCF, she served as a consulting engineer for companies in Atlanta and was chief of the research & development division of the Bureau of Pollution Control in that city. She is currently a member of EREF’s Board of Directors and Research Council.
Debbie has contributed to the advancement of environmental engineering and science professions through her service to professional organizations, higher education, and mentorship. She has been particularly effective at mentoring under-represented engineering scholars. Debbie is most known for her work with bioreactor landfills which produced operational, monitoring, and design information, as well as the first text on the topic. The Reinhart Master’s Scholarship is aimed at funding female environmental engineering students.


Applications will be considered from those who:
  • will be this year or are now a full-time master’s or doctoral student, and
  • have a clearly demonstrated interest in solid waste management research. EREF defines solid waste management to pertain to municipal solid waste, construction & demolition waste, industrial waste (e.g. coal ash), WTE ash, etc. Note this definition does not include agricultural wastes or wastewater treatment plant sludge.
Scholarships recognize graduate students pursuing excellence in solid waste management research and education.  Recipients are chosen based on credentials and potential contributions to the solid waste industry and its scientific community.

Awards Based On

  • Academic performance
  • Professional experience
  • Relevance of one’s work to the advancement of solid waste management science
  • Potential for success

Scholarship Range

Award amounts consider the cost of tuition at the recipient’s institution and any other funds received.  Full scholarships may not be awarded to students who will be receiving full-tuition scholarships from other sources (excluding direct university assistance such as tuition remission, or assistantship income) but may still be considered for partial awards.
Doctoral scholarships are awarded up to $14,400 per year, paid monthly, and can be extended for up to 3 years from the initial award date.  Master’s scholarships are awarded up to $6,000 per year and can be extended for up to 2 years from the initial award date. Scholarship renewal is dependent upon satisfactory progress as determined by the student’s academic advisor.

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