People: SWE Fall 2021

From breaking the glass ceiling in industry, academia, and research to an array of accomplishments, these women are making news.

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Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

A Leader in the Aerospace Community

Pam Melroy

NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy took office June 21, 2021, after she was given the oath of office by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson during a ceremony at the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

She was nominated in April by President Biden and confirmed by the Senate on June 17. Along with Nelson, she is responsible for providing overall leadership, planning, and policy direction for NASA. She will perform the duties and exercise the powers delegated by the administrator, assist the administrator in making final agency decisions, and act for the administrator in his absence by performing all necessary functions to govern NASA operations. She also is responsible for outlining the agency’s vision and representing NASA to the Executive Office of the President, Congress, heads of federal and other appropriate government agencies, international organizations, and external organizations and communities.

“It is a joy to be back in the NASA family, the smartest and most dedicated workforce of any place that I’ve ever worked. I always knew this was the most exciting place to work from the time I was a child, inspired by the first landing on the Moon,” Melroy said. “I’m very honored to be teamed with Administrator Nelson and our Associate Administrator Bob Cabana and the rest of the NASA team. We do have a lot of work to do, but it’s our intention not to just lead today’s NASA, but also lead us forward into the future and support the generations of fantastic things that NASA will continue to do.”

Melroy has distinguished herself as a leader in the aerospace community and has gained valuable experience in the United States’ civil, commercial, and national security space sectors that will help her lead the team at NASA. She brings a unique perspective to the role, having served as one of only two women to command the Space Shuttle.

After graduating from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, Melroy logged more than 6,000 flight hours in more than 50 different aircraft. She is a veteran of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Operation Just Cause, with more than 200 combat and combat support hours. After serving more than two decades in the Air Force and as a NASA astronaut, she took on a number of leadership roles, including Lockheed Martin, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Nova Systems, Australia, and as an advisor to the Australian Space Agency. She also served as an independent consultant and a member of the National Space Council Users Advisory Group. Melroy holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and astronomy from Wellesley College and a master’s degree in Earth and planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Photo Credit: Emory University

New Head of the NSF Directorate for Engineering

Susan S. Margulies

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has selected Susan S. Margulies, Ph.D., to head the Directorate for Engineering. She is the first biomedical engineer to lead the engineering directorate, which supports fundamental research in emerging and frontier basic research areas. She began her NSF appointment on Aug. 16.

Since 2017, Dr. Margulies has been professor and chair of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, housed jointly at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University. Previously, she held positions as professor of bioengineering and neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania. She has received numerous awards and honors, including fellowships from the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Biomedical Engineering Society, as well as other recognitions throughout her career. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine.

Dr. Margulies is internationally recognized for spurring paradigm shifts in two fields simultaneously: pediatric traumatic brain injury and lung injury associated with mechanical ventilators. Her overall goal is to open avenues for prevention, intervention, and treatment of these injuries.

NSF’s engineering directorate enhances U.S. innovation through its centers, partnerships, and small business programs and is a driving force behind the training and development of the U.S. engineering workforce. By making education an essential element of its grants and centers, and by supporting research experiences for teachers, undergraduates, graduate students, and new faculty, the directorate helps prepare the future engineering workforce to innovate and compete in the global economy.

Dr. Margulies’ career has been marked by accomplishments such as creating and directing unique cross-campus research, training, educational, and fundraising initiatives to improve faculty and student diversity, inclusion, and engagement across public and private institutions. She has been instrumental in leading educational programs to teach students how to use innovative approaches to solve important problems at the interface of medicine and engineering.

In her new role, she hopes to use bold, integrated national and international strategies to draw on all types of research, exploratory, use-inspired, challenge-driven, translation to practice optimization, and production, while simultaneously expanding the U.S. engineering workforce.

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Elected ASCE President

Maria Lehman

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) members elected Maria Lehman, P.E., president for the 2022-2023 term, after a monthlong election that closed June 1. Lehman is currently ASCE’s national treasurer; serves on the society’s industry leaders council; and is a member of ASCE’s committee on America’s infrastructure, which is responsible for preparing the quadrennial infrastructure report card.

She is also GHD’s infrastructure market leader for the United States. She has served as vice president for critical infrastructure for Parsons, COO and executive director of the New York State Thruway Authority, and commissioner of public works for Erie County, New York. Lehman has 40 years of technical and leadership experience between the private and public sectors, serving on more than 700 projects ranging from $10,000 to $3.9 billion in size.

The ASCE president serves as the chief representative and spokesperson for the organization, working with the executive director. The president chairs the board of direction and the executive committee and assists in educating and motivating members and potential members by promoting society principles, policies, and goals. The president’s term is for one year.

“It’s an honor to represent ASCE and the civil engineering profession as the society president, and I look forward to the challenge,” said Lehman. “I’ve made a lifelong commitment to ASCE and been involved in a lot of things over a lot of time. So, I feel I have an interesting voice to add — to be able to right some of the wrongs in the profession right now and really set us up to be the leaders that we’re meant to be.”

Lehman has been actively involved in ASCE leadership roles for nearly 40 years, when she co-founded the Northeast Region Younger Members Council in 1983. She served as Buffalo Section president in 1990 and was a delegate to the New York State and District 1 councils. Lehman has received the ASCE President’s Medal, the Edmund Friedman Young Engineer Award, and the New York Governor’s Award for Excellence in Business. She was named the University at Buffalo’s School of Engineering Alumna of the Year and the New York State Society of Professional Engineers Engineering Manager of the Year. Lehman earned her B.S. in civil engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo and is a licensed professional engineer in several states. She will be inducted as president-elect in October during the virtual ASCE 2021 convention.

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Photo Credit: Mississippi State University

Distinguished Lectureship Award

C. LaShan Simpson

C. LaShan Simpson, Ph.D., associate professor in biomedical engineering at Mississippi State University (MSU), received the 2021 Diversity Lecture Award from the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES).

Dr. Simpson’s areas of specialty are tissue engineering, cardiovascular disease, osteogenesis, biomineralization, animal models, cell culture, histology, and cell and gene therapy. Her research interests include examining the relationship between vascular calcification and bone mineralization and developing polymeric delivery vehicles for cell and gene therapy of cardiovascular disease. Before joining MSU, she was a post-doctoral research assistant at Rice University. A graduate of Clemson University, Dr. Simpson holds a B.S., an M.S., and a Ph.D., all in bioengineering.

The Diversity Lecture Award is the BMES’ premier recognition. It honors an individual, project, organization, or institution for impactful contributions toward improving gender and racial diversity in biomedical engineering. The award seeks to recognize lifetime achievements and high-impact activities (i.e., research, academia, and service) that are innovative and improve equity among biomedical engineering academia and industry.

Each year, the Society bestows this prestigious award to individuals who have demonstrated impactful leadership and accomplishments in biomedical engineering science and practice. Award recipients have the opportunity to deliver a plenary lecture at the BMES annual meeting in the fall and publish an article in the Annals of Biomedical Engineering.

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First Female Board Chair

Anne M. Ellis

The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) named Anne M. Ellis, P.E., executive director with the Charles Pankow Foundation, its first female board chair. Ellis was recently elected to serve alongside several new officers: Thomas H. Phoenix, Sr., P.E., principal with CPL Architects and Engineers, vice chair; Darrell X. Rounds, operations group manager, General Motors, treasurer; and Charlie (Chuck) D. Curlin, Jr., P.E., principal with Shultz Engineering Group, secretary. The new board term starts Oct. 1.

A registered professional engineer, Ellis earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Virginia Tech. She is recognized globally in the concrete field for her work with the American Concrete Institute, National Ready Mixed Concrete, and the Portland Cement Association.

“We recognize the need to improve diversity and inclusion in leadership roles in this industry, and this year’s nomination process was a step in the right direction,” said Lakisha A. Woods, president and CEO of NIBS. “The skillset and knowledge that these new board members bring to the table will increase our ability to serve the needs of the nation’s building industry.”

This new slate, along with the four board members recently appointed by President Biden and submitted to the U.S. Senate for approval, will put NIBS in a strong position moving forward. The board elections come on the heels of the recent release of NIBS’ 2021 Built Environment Social Equity Survey, which found that two-thirds (65%) of employees indicated it is important or extremely important to increase the diversity of the built environment. NIBS enlisted market research and consulting firm Avenue M Group to conduct the survey and analyze data. Nearly 12,000 responses were collected. The NIBS board comprises 21 members. The president of the United States, with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoints six members to represent the public interest. The remaining 15 members are elected from the nation’s building community and include both public interest representatives and industry voices.

The NIBS brings together labor and consumer interests, government representatives, regulatory agencies, and members of the building industry to identify and resolve problems and potential problems around the construction of housing and commercial buildings. NIBS is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, established by Congress in 1974.

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Photo Credit: David Kelly Crow

Significant Contributions in Computer Architecture and Microarchitecture

Margaret Martonosi

The Association for Computing Machinery and the IEEE Computer Society named Margaret Martonosi, Ph.D., the Hugh Trumbull Adams ’35 Professor of Computer Science at Princeton University, the recipient of the 2021 Eckert-Mauchly Award for contributions to the design, modeling, and verification of power-efficient computer architecture.

Dr. Martonosi has made significant contributions in computer architecture and microarchitecture, and her work has led to new fields of research. She has authored more than 175 publications (with 17,000+ citations) on subjects including parallel architectures, memory hierarchies, compilers, and mobile networks. She was an early innovator in the design and modeling of power-aware microarchitectures, including using narrow bit-widths, modeling and responding to thermal issues, and performing power estimation, e.g., as embodied in the Wattch tool.

She recognized early the need for microarchitectural- and architectural-level power modeling and measurement infrastructure. She was a co-developer (with David Brooks, Ph.D., and Vivek Tiwari, Ph.D.) of Wattch, an architectural simulator that estimates CPU power consumption, which is used by thousands of researchers today. She broadened her scope beyond conventional computers to energy issues in mobile sensor networks, where energy fundamentally dictates system lifetime and data-gathering success. Her ZebraNet wildlife tracking project established the new research field of mobile sensor networks. Memory consistency model specification and verification, Dr. Martonosi’s groundbreaking work, has demonstrated the potential of fast, early-stage, formal methods to verify the correctness of memory consistency model implementation. This work, embodied in the Check suite of verification tools, has had immediate and significant impact.