News & Features

CAEE Engineer Receives NSF CAREER Award

headshot of Paola Passalaqua

Mar. 31, 2014

CAEE faculty member Paola Passalacqua was selected to receive a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

She was awarded for her research project focused on deltas, which are landforms at the mouths of rivers, where rivers flow into oceans, seas, lakes or reservoirs. There are approximately half a billion people who live on or near deltas around the world. Deltas are fragile yet resilient, capable of adapting to changing environments and recovering from damage caused by extreme events such as storms.

Passalacqua and her team are developing image analysis and statistical tools that will provide detailed information about the deltas, and how humans and climate shifts affect them. These tools will be released as open source software and will be integrated into undergraduate and graduate coursework. As part of the project, a science/visual arts course aimed at high school students will be developed to address environmental problems such as coastal restoration.

The awards are the most prestigious offered by NSF’s CAREER Program, providing up to five years of funding to junior faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of their organizations’ missions.

Three other faculty members from the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have also been selected to receive CAREER Awards, totaling $1.8 million from the NSF. Nanshu Lu, Evdokia Nikolova, and Yaguo Wang were also named.

“For any engineer, an NSF CAREER Award is a tremendous recognition of one’s research and ability to provide solutions to real-world challenges,” said Cockrell School Interim Dean Sharon L. Wood. “We are extremely proud of all four of the Cockrell School’s 2014 award recipients. Their early success is a testament to the school’s commitment to developing the educators, researchers and engineering leaders of the future.”

Since 2012, 14 Cockrell School faculty members have received CAREER Awards.