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portrait of Jeanne VanBriesen

August 04, 2021

Personal Mention

Jeanne M. VanBriesen, who serves as the Duquesne Light Company Professor in the departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy, has accepted an offer from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) to lead its Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems (CBET). The opportunity will allow VanBriesen to build on her sustained record of leadership and leverage her experience bringing interdisciplinary methods to help solve elaborate problems. VanBriesen’s research focuses on biodegradation and thermodynamics of microbial systems, and she has published more than 70 journal articles over the course of her career. Throughout her tenure, she’s emphasized the importance of aligning this research with environmental concerns in the region, in particular, improving water systems. VanBriesen joined Carnegie Mellon in 1999 as an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and was awarded the Duquesne Light Company chair in 2014. She recently served as Carnegie Mellon’s Vice Provost for Faculty (2019 to 2021), and she previously served as chair of the Faculty Senate. “Jeanne is not only a highly accomplished scholar, but a thoughtful leader and extraordinary collaborator who embodies all of the talents needed to thrive in this important leadership position,” said CMU President Farnam Jahanian. “This appointment is another expression of the critical role our faculty play as thought leaders and her public service brings pride to our entire community.” Learn more about VanBriesen.

portrait of Florian FrickFlorian Frick, an associate professor of mathematical sciences, has received a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation. These prestigious grants are designed to support promising research by early-career faculty. Frick received the award for his project “Geometric and Topological Cominatorics,” which he said “attempts to solve problems across mathematics by artificially translating these problems into a geometric situation.” Even for research questions that don't involve geometry, Frick said a "geometric viewpoint" can be used to detect and analyze global phenomena. "The tools of geometry help you squint and take into account the aggregate of information a problem provides, instead of just a local picture," he explained. Understanding global phenomena or "the big picture" is a major challenge in data analysis, but even more importantly, Frick hopes his work will help build bridges between mathematical fields. "The mathematical research landscape has become increasingly fragmented over the last few decades," he said. "Projects that unify research areas and elucidate connections between seemingly disparate mathematical branches are crucially needed to make progress on mathematical problems that have resisted all attempts at a solution.

portrait of Francisco MolinaFrancisco Molina, director of CMU’s Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity (DRBC) Services, recently gave a presentation at the University of Wisconsin’s virtual E-Business Consortium on “Rebuilding After Crisis Through Automation, Intelligence & Resilience.”  Molina presented "Building and Scaling an IT Business Resiliency Program,” which explored pathways organizations can employ to move forward and rebuild as they emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. As director of DRBC Services, Molina works to ensure Carnegie Mellon has a coordinated response to any type of emergency that could affect the university’s people, facilities, processes or technology. This includes making sure the necessary procedures and technologies are in place for the university to continue delivering its academic programs and services should an emergency or significant business disruption occur. Prior to coming to CMU, Molina worked for most of his career in the financial private sector for organizations such as AEGON/Transamerica in the U.S., The National Bank of Mexico (now Citi-Banamex) in Mexico City and other international locations implementing, maturing, and managing business resiliency programs and projects to identify, mitigate and respond to enterprise operational risks.