Scholarships are awarded by EREF to recognize excellence in master’s, doctoral or post-doctoral waste management research and education.  Awards to doctoral students are given in memory of Francois Fiessinger, P.E., Ph.D., a graduate of Rutgers University, who was a founding director of the foundation; and by the Environmental Research and Education Foundation. Additional scholarships were made possible by the late Robert P. Stearns, P.E., DEE of SCS Engineers, former Chairman of EREF, Robert J. Riethmiller of PTR Baler and Compactor Company and the Waste Industries Scholarship Honoring Lonnie C. Poole, Jr., an EREF founder and Director Emeritus. Most recently EREF awarded the first Carl J. Apicella Scholarship, made possible by Carl Apicella, President of American Environmental Group, a Tetra Tech Company.

Fiessinger Doctoral Scholarship

Francois Fiessinger, P.E., Ph.D., an engineering graduate of Rutgers University, was a founding director of the Environmental Research and Education Foundation (EREF).  Francois believed in scholarly research and was one of very few people who had a long-term research and development vision for the solid waste industry. 

In 1997, based on a contribution from Lyonnaise des Eaux, the Francois Fiessinger Memorial Scholarship Fund was established to recognize excellence in Ph.D. or postdoctoral environmental research and education.  One Fiessinger Scholar is awarded annually.

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. and postdoctoral scholarships to notable candidates, expanding the scholarship program.  At least one EREF Scholar is awarded annually.

Robert P. Stearns/SCS Engineers Master’s Scholarship

Robert P. Stearns was a former chairman of the EREF board and a co-founder of SCS Engineers.  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 continues as SCS’ Chairman of the Board focusing on strategic planning and acquisitions.  Bob and SCS Engineers established the Master’s Scholarship fund to expand EREF’s successful doctoral-level scholarship program.  At least one Stearns/SCS master’s level scholarship is awarded annually.

Robert J. Riethmiller/PTR Baler and Compactor Master’s Scholarship

Robert J. Riethmiller, chairman of PTR Baler and Compactor, currently serves 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.  Riethmiller has been working in the waste industry for over 50 years.  He volunteered to fund a second Master’s scholarship.  One Riethmiller/PTR Scholar is awarded annually.

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 Raleighbased 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 four years, and then returned home to find immediate success in the business world, excelling as both a sales manager and an engineer with several firms. In 1970 Lonnie founded Waste Industries, a non-hazardous solid waste services company, which now serves more than 700,000 customers across five states. One Lonnie C Poole Jr. / Waste Industries Scholar is awarded annually.

Carl J. Apicella Scholarship

Carl is a strong supporter of EREF, having played an important role in the EREF Fall Classic & Networking Event and Annual Charitable Auction for several years. “EREF is the one organization that really focuses on giving back to the environmental industry,” Carl expressed during his announcement of the scholarship during the EREF Annual Charitable Auction, held on April 30 during WasteExpo 2014. “I’ve been blessed to have worked with so many great people and companies over the last 25 years; I wanted to give back to the solid waste industry and supporting EREF is a perfect way to accomplish that.”

Awarded Scholars


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.