CEEatGT Update: January 2019

School of Civil and Environmental Engineering Update header
Having trouble viewing this email? Click here to view it as a webpage.
WATCH: Town Hall with the Chair2019 CEEatGT Town Hall video thumbnail of School Chair Donald Webster.

Marshall FellowPh.D. student Jackie Knee

Like so many of the School’s graduates, Jackie Knee has her first job lined up when she finishes her Ph.D. later this year. The Marshall Committee has invited Knee to continue her work to make people healthier as the Marshall Sherfield Fellow in Britain, a post-doctoral research position available to one engineer or scientist from the United States. Knee’s work there will include tracking microbial exposure risk in the food chain.

$5M ChallengeMichael and Jenny Messner

Alumnus Mike Messner and his wife, Jenny, have made the largest donation in the School’s history and issued a challenge for others to match their generosity. The Messners’ $5 million gift will match other contributions dollar-for-dollar in an effort to double (or more than double) the number of endowed positions for civil and environmental engineering faculty. Such positions are key to recruiting and keeping the world’s top teachers and researchers.

Downtown Atlanta skyline with traffic on the I-75/I-85 Downtown Connector. (Photo: Fitrah Hamid)

Graded Georgia’s infrastructure just got a checkup, and the news was … better. The five-year update to the American Society of Civil Engineers Infrastructure Report Card for the state produced an overall grade of C+ — the highest so far and the first time the state’s infrastructure systems have received a higher grade. Professor Adjo Amekudzi-Kennedy led a group of experts who reviewed the evaluation before publication and noted investments in transportation, ports, dams, and water systems that have created positive momentum for Georgia.

Cover design for the new National Academy of Engineering report, "Environmental Engineering for the 21st Century: Address Grand Challenges." It features the Earth in the center with photos around the circumference of a child drinking water from a spigot, a piece of glacier breaking off, a bulldozer atop piles of trash, a city skyline, and professional-looking people gathered around a laptop.

Grand challenges A new seminal report from the National Academy of Engineering lays out the grand challenges facing society that environmental engineers are best-suited to address. It also offers a prescription for how the field must adapt to meet those needs. Professor John Crittenden and Georgia Tech President Emeritus (and civil engineering alumnus) G. Wayne Clough helped write the report, which calls for an evolution of education, research and practice.

Screenshot of Scientific American/Knowable Magazine story, "How Humans Get in the Way of Clean Water," which features an image of a silver tap with water flowing out.

Clean water The most significant challenge to providing clean water around the world? People. Research by Wilder Assistant Professor Joe Brown and other public health professionals has started to uncover why getting people to change their behavior is so difficult, even when their health and the health of their families depends on it. Scientific American has highlighted Brown’s work as part of a deep dive into the obstacles that prevent some communities from having safe water.

Assistant Professor Emily Grubert, who joined the School's faculty in January.

Welcome Emily Grubert has brought her unique work blending engineering and social science to the School’s faculty this month. Grubert studies the big civil infrastructure systems you might expect, but she also considers the social impact of the systems and the decisions we make about them. She came to Tech after a few years at the University of California, Berkeley, and several years working at McKinsey & Company.

Assistant Professer Iris Tien sits at her desk in her Georgia Tech office. (Photo: Allison Carter)

Better foundations Assistant Professor Iris Tien also takes a broad view of the infrastructure systems she studies, analyzing and modeling the intricate interdependencies of those systems. By understanding how the performance of one system — say, power or water — influences others — transportation, telecommunications — she works to design infrastructure that withstands aging, disruption or outages, and climate change.

Frederick R. Dickerson Chair Srinivas Peeta (Photo: Luke Xinjing Xu)

Alumni honors Dickerson Chair Srinivas Peeta has been named a distinguished alumnus of India’s top engineering college — a bit of a twist on the typical alumni news in this space. Peeta joins a group of fewer than 200 graduates of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras honored with the award.
  Video screenshot of Rudy Bonaparte delivering the Karl Terzaghi Lecture on March 8, 2018. Split screen shows Bonaparte at a podium on the right and his title slide on the left, "Geotechnical Stability of Waste Fills – Lessons Learned and Continuing Challenges."
Geo's top honor Professor of the Practice Rudy Bonaparte delivered the signature presentation to the ASCE Geo-Institute in 2018. Video is now available of his Terzaghi Lecture on reducing the failure rate of waste facilities. WATCH
Professor John Crittenden in his lab, with shelves of containers in the background.
Freese Award Professor John Crittenden is the 2020 recipient of the Simon W. Freese Environmental Engineering Award from ASCE. The award and associated lecture honor an engineer whose “extraordinary accomplishments” have leveraged research to solve significant water quality problems.