Fall 2021 Letter from the Director

Greetings alumni and colleagues, 

It with great excitement to share the latest updates from the Engineering School of Infrastructure & Environment (ESSIE). The newly established Center for Coastal Solutions (CCS) was awarded a multi-institution grant to study harmful algal blooms. David Kaplan, Ph.D., CCS associate director and ESSIE associate professor, and a team of CCS-affiliated scientists and engineers from UF, the University of South Florida, North Carolina State University and the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation received $2.3 million from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study how water and nutrients flowing from Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee River watershed affect coastal water quality. 

Speaking of research within bodies of water, Eric Jing Du, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Civil & Coastal Engineering, has been awarded $1.4 million from the National Science Foundation to lead a collaborative project to optimize the operation of undersea robots for offshore industries and workers. The goal is to have a seamless human-robot sensory transfer of the translation of perceptions and actions between the operator and the robot. 

Researchers in the Department of Civil & Coastal Engineering received $1 million from the Office of Naval Research to predict the impact of hurricane damage on vulnerable communities. Maitane Olabarrieta, Ph.D., associate professor, and Arthriya Subgranon, Ph.D., assistant professor, will use the open-source, community-developed Coupled Ocean Atmosphere Waves Sediment Transport (COAWST) modeling system to improve capabilities to forecast coastal impacts from land-fall hurricanes.

We are proud of our students and alumni for paving the way for others. Aldrin Gaffud, a sixth-year senior double-majoring in civil and architecture, received the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering’s Service to the Global Community Award for reestablishing the Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (oSTEM) student organization. oSTEM provides all LGBTQIA+ scholars academic and professional resources along with specific resources that can cater to niches and intersections in the LGBTQA+ community. Elliott White, Ph.D., an alum from the Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences, discusses the importance of leadership and how he plans to make an impact as an assistant professor at Stanford University.  

Please join me on congratulating Elliot P. Douglas, Ph.D., a professor and undergraduate coordinator in the Department of Environmental Engineering, for his induction as a fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). He is one of six members to come from the University of Florida since the award’s inception. We also commend Michael McVay, Ph.D., a University Term Professor in the Department of Civil & Coastal Engineering, for his dedication of four decades to the university. He has been named professor emeritus. We celebrate his 40-year tenure of committed teaching, distinguished service, and impactful research. 

Go Gators,
Kirk Hatfield, Ph.D.,