Carnegie Mellon University
January 23, 2015

ASCE Honors VanBriesen with Petersen Award

ASCE Honors VanBriesen with Petersen Award

Margaret S. Petersen, P.E., F.ASCE, Hon.D.WRE, a significant pioneer in hydraulics and water resources engineeringMargaret S. Petersen, P.E., F.ASCE, Hon.D.WRE, a significant pioneer in hydraulics and water resources engineering

ASCE has named Duquesne Light Company Professor Jeanne VanBriesen the 2015 recipient of the Margaret S. Petersen Award, ”for her technical achievements, ASCE leadership, and commitment to mentoring women pursuing engineering careers that mirrors the ideals the award’s namesake championed throughout her life.” The award, which was established in 2011, is named for Margaret S. Petersen, a pioneer in hydraulics and water resources engineering. “Margaret Petersen was a prominent figure in water resources engineering, and a powerful force for mentoring,” says VanBriesen. “What touches me most about this award is being linked with her.”

VanBriesen has been on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon for over fifteen years. She earned a MS and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, where she also completed a Bachelor’s of Science in Education. In the past twenty years, she has published fifty scientific articles, and has given over 100 professional presentations. In 2008, she was a selected presenter at the National Academy of Engineering Indo-US Frontiers of Engineering Symposium on Infrastructure, and in 2010 was an invited speaker at the National Academy of Engineering Education Symposium. In 2011, she was the National Academy of Engineering Gilbreth Lecturer. She is also a registered engineer in the state of Delaware.

Asked about her greatest achievement or award, VanBriesen says, “I have mentored fifteen graduate students who have completed their Ph.D. degrees at Carnegie Mellon.  It was a privilege to work with them as they deepened their understanding of the world and expanded our collective knowledge of engineering.  It remains a privilege to watch them succeed in their careers.” 

VanBriesen’s research is in biological processes in the environment, with an emphasis on engineered water systems. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the Heinz Endowments, and the Colcom Foundation. She currently serves as the Director of Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Water Quality in Urban Environmental Systems (WaterQuest), and is a member of the U.S. EPA Science Advisory Board.

Dr. VanBriesen will accept the Margaret S. Petersen Award at the annual World Environmental and Water Resources Congress in Austin, Texas this May, where she will give a keynote presentation.  Many of her current and former students will be in attendance.

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