Campus News in Brief

Professor wins teaching award

Jeanne M. VanBriesen, a professor in Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was honored as the 2008 Professor of the Year by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). ASCE gives the award annually to a professor who has shown exemplary teaching ability, professional contributions, integrity, and community service.

VanBriesen’s passion is water resource engineering. She is the director of WaterQUEST (Water Quality in Urban and Environmental Systems), a Carnegie Mellon research center that examines urban water quality and has nearly $1 million in university seed funding.

VanBriesen said in a university press release that aging water infrastructure systems are at the base of not only Pittsburgh’s water quality, but also the city’s health and quality of life. She brought up that routine monitoring in Pittsburgh and aging infrastructure cities worldwide, pathogens and fecal indicator bacteria are found at high levels, unsuitable for drinking water and recreational use.

This is not the first award that VanBriesen has been honored with. She is also the recipient of the 2007 Pennsylvania Water Environment Association Professional Research Award, the 2002 George Tallman Ladd Award from the Carnegie Institute of Technology, and a National Science Foundation Career Award in 2001.

VanBriesen received her bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in 1990, and her master's and Ph.D. at Northwestern in 1993 and 1998, respectively.

Students win scholarships

Three Carnegie Mellon juniors have been awarded Barry M. Goldwater scholarships in recognition of their excellence and dedication to the study of science. Carmeline Dsilva, Timothy Helbig, and Swati Varshney were among just under 300 of 1000 student nominees nationwide chosen as recipients. All three hope to pursue a career in research and teaching at the university level, and have credited their experiences thus far at Carnegie Mellon for this choice.

Dsilva, a chemical engineering major from Lansdale, Pa., has been studying the role of catalysts in methanol fuel cells, hoping to make the process more efficient. She hops to continue research in her new focus of using computer models to predict the effects of carbon dioxide sequestration.

Helbig, a biological sciences major from Thorofare, N.J., has been examining plant metabolic engineering, aimed at optimizing their biochemical processes. He is currently working with the University of Pittsburgh on thermal tolerance in plants.

Varshney, a chemistry major from Burlington, Mass., has assisted with the study of polymeric drugs to treat rare genetic diseases. She hops to continue her research of polymeric materials.

Goldwater Scholars receive one- and two-year scholarships for up to $7500 per year for tuition, fees, books, and room and board. The foundation considers the scholarships to be a stepping stone for future support for their research careers, such as fellowships and Rhodes Scholarships.