News Digest - Spring 2022


Get to know ANDREW ALLEYNE, the new Dean of the College of Science and Engineering. Watch the “Meet the Dean” video at 1p2jBC0pzBQ.

SEBASTIAN BEHRENS and his fellow researchers from the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering have optimized a novel technique to visualize proteins generated by microorganisms in wastewater. The method allows scientists new insights into the lifestyle of uncultured microbes (organisms that are not easily grown in the lab). They also learn how these microbes react and adapt to changing environmental conditions in wastewater treatment plants over space and time. ZHE DU, a post-doctoral researcher working with SEBASTIAN BEHRENS, recently published an article related to this research in Water Research, a journal of the International Water Association (IWA) and one of the most renowned journals in the field of Environmental Engineering (impact factor of 11.2, ranked 2 out of 98 in the field of water resources). The article, "Tracking de novo protein synthesis in the activated sludge microbiome using BONCAT- FACS," appeared in the October 2021 issue.

ARDESHIR EBTEHAJ received $450K through NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement Mission (GPM) to develop a new model that will improve prediction of extreme weather. Ebtehaj researches cells of intense rainfall (mesoscale convective systems, or MCS) that are responsible for most severe weather and extreme flood events. Fast evolving classes of storms are often extremely challenging to predict. Over the United States, MCS account for over 50% of warm-season precipitation in the Great Plains and over 40% of cold-season precipitation in the southeast. GPM is an international mission that sets the standard for spaceborne precipitation measurements using satellites to measure Earth’s rain and snowfall. [Image from NASA]

ANDY ERICKSON (SAFL) and JOHN GULLIVER received $127,000 for two-years from the Local Road Research Board for the project, “Update of Storm Water Management—Best Practices Manual (From 2009).” The revised and expanded Stormwater BMP Maintenance Resource Guide will be a relatively short synopsis and will serve as a handy reference tool for making optimum decisions and increasing cost-effectiveness of stormwater management throughout Minnesota.

ANDY ERICKSON, MUGUR TUROS, MIHAI MARASTEANU, and JOHN GULLIVER presented “Increasing Friction on Roadway Ice with Water-Heated Sand,” at the 2022 Transportation Research Board meeting, Washington, D.C., January 2022.

KIMBERLY HILL is working with other UMN researchers to study waves created by recreational boats. Findings suggest that wakesurf boats should be operated at greater distances from shoreline compared to typical recreational boats.

CATHERINE (WOLFGRAM) FRENCH has received many prestigious awards, but was pleased to be honored locally with induction into the Hall of Fame at her alma mater, Burnsville High School (Class of 1975).

JOHN GULLIVER and Mei Cai (University of Minnesota Duluth) received $257,000 for three years from the Local Road Research Board for their project, “Addressing the research needs for the sustainable application of tire derived aggregate in stormwater infiltration/treatment.”

JOHN GULLIVER presented the Plenary Address, “Practical Implementation of Green Infrastructure Strategies,” at the 2nd International Conference on Environmental Science and Applications, Pusan, Korea, November 21-23, 2021. Gulliver also made presentations at the Urban Drainage Modelling 2022 Conference in Costa Mesa (January 2022) and the International Erosion Control Association Annual Conference and Expo in Minneapolis (February 2022).

MIKI HONDZO received recognition through the University of Minnesota’s Thank a Teacher program sponsored by the UMN Center for Educational Innovation. Students use this program to give thanks to teachers or staff who have made an impact on their education and tell instructors why they valued a class.

Research Professor SOFIA MOGILEVSKAYA was selected to be a Research Fellow at the Oberwolfach Research Institute for Mathematics in Germany in March 2022. Mogilevskaya and her collaborators Profs. Dominik Schillinger and Anna Zemlynova are researching the topic “analytical and numerical modeling of materials reinforced by two-dimensional flexible nanoplatelets.” 

The "sand room" on the 7th floor of the Civil Engineering Building
PETER R. EAKMAN (BCE 1989), a transportation engineer, wrote in with a memory of the mined out space on the Civil Engineering Building’s 7th level. The photo pictures a visit from His Majesty King Carl Gustav of Sweden (center) in 1982. The “sand room” was long ago converted to offices for graduate students.
Pictured:  C. Peter McGrath, President University of Minnesota (far left); H.M. King Carl Gustav (center); Architect David Bennett (front, facing away); Magnus Bergman (second to right); Robert Hansen (far right).

PAIGE NOVAK’s collaboration with artist Aaron Dysart embodied research in an art installation, Byproduct, which was displayed at the Fulton Brewery. The installment has been taken down, but the Minneapolis StarTribune recorded the story Saturday, November 11, 2021. The art installation captured Novak’s MnDRIVE-sponsored sustainable wastewater treatment research. The changing lights, driven by Novak’s data, also invoked bubbles of the brewery’s fermentation process.

Professor Emeritus KARL SMITH was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Smith is being honored for distinguished contributions to engineering and science education, and his leadership in advocating for, mentoring research on, and using active and collaborative learning strategies. Smith was a Morse-Alumni Distinguished University Teaching Professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering and taught in the Technological Leadership Institute at UMN. He is currently a part-time Cooperative Learning Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University.


ALI DANESHY (MS 1968) received the 2021 Legend of Hydraulic Fracturing award presented by the Society of Petroleum Engineers. Daneshy acknowledged his teacher and mentor Charles Fairhurst with these words, “I share this award with you in appreciation of the fracturing education I got under your supervision. My most sincere thanks.”

R. GANESH (Ph.D. 2015, advised by Stefano Gonnella) is now an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering at Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. Ganesh’s research interests center around understanding the static and dynamic response of flexible, nonlinear mechanical structures.

MICHAEL HEUER (BCE 1978) was recently honored with the Distinguished Achievement Award at the University of Minnesota 70th Geotechnical Engineering Conference. This award recognizes an individual who is at least 50 years old, has practiced engineering in the state of Minnesota for over 20 years, and has made outstanding contributions to the advancement of the field of geotechnics or geotechnical engineering. Heuer spent his career with Braun Intertec where he worked on a wide range of retail, institutional, commercial, and public projects, including many of the new and renovated University of Minnesota buildings such as Walter Library, Northrop Memorial Auditorium, Tate Hall, and Huntington Bank Stadium. He was a long-time member of the CEGE Professional Advisory Board and has participated in many of CEGE’s mentoring programs. His philanthropic support enabled the renovation of the Michael M. and Nancy L. Heuer Soil Mechanics Laboratory and is currently developing a new, first of its kind outreach program to promote the field of civil engineering to youth.

ITASCA INTERNATIONAL, INC., won a MN Tek Award for 2021 in the category of Machine Learning. A local construction company asked Itasca to look into the problem of cranes and similar equipment being prone to toppling when moving over ground of varying deformability. Itasca developed an artificial neural network bundled into a webapp that reads raw data files from in-situ testing equipment and notifies the engineer whether the location is suitable for walking the cranes safely. Dr. Varun, Senior Geomechanics Engineer, and Dr. Jason Furtney, Chief Technical Officer and Senior Engineer, led the effort.

KATRINA KESSLER (MS 2001) was named Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency effective November 1, 2021. Prior to her appointment, Kessler served the agency as assistant commissioner for water policy and agriculture. Governor Walz said, “Katrina is a dedicated public servant with a long track record of implementing innovative solutions at both the state and municipal level that are good for the environment and good for business. She is deeply committed to our administration’s One Minnesota vision and is prepared to lead the state forward during this critical time to protect our state’s waters, air, land, and climate for future generations of Minnesotans.”

MARK KREBSBACH (PE, BCE 1985) was named 2020 Outstanding County Engineer by the Minnesota County Engineers Association (MCEA). Krebsbach has been the Dakota County Transportation Director/County Engineer since 2002. He oversees planning, design, construction and operation of 415 miles of County highways. He has been active in the transportation profession throughout his career including serving as president of the MCEA and the Minnesota Surveyors and Engineers Society.

ROBERT KRUSSOW (BCE 2004, PE, LEED AP), formerly of TKDA, has joined 3M as the Facilities Civil Engineer. He provides civil engineering and project management services to 3M’s United States and Canada facilities. Primary duties include developing and executing capital projects, acting as a subject matter expert and internal resource for other departments and divisions within 3M, and providing design guidance and oversight of 3M’s external engineering resources.

CODY MATHISEN (BCE 2016, PE) is the Principal Engineer for the City of Hastings, Minnesota. As an undergraduate, Mathisen worked with APWA to update the municipal emphasis technical electives in the CEGE program. The municipal emphasis is now clearly laid out in the CEGE Undergraduate Handbook for students wishing to pursue an emphasis in municipal engineering.

BRET WEISS (BCE 1987), former member of the CEGE Professional Advisory Board, was elected 2021- 2022 chair of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. Weiss, the CEO of Golden Valley engineering firm WSB, has been described as a remarkable community servant and leader. “We will concentrate on building connections across all businesses to enhance the impact we can have on Minnesota communities,” said Weiss, “I am honored to represent the business community and the Chamber as Board Chair.”

THORE PETER MEYER (BCE 1950) passed away December 27, 2021. Meyer completed his degree in Civil Engineering at UMN after being discharged from the Navy. Meyer worked as a Civil Engineer in the Minneapolis area before building his own firm in Buffalo.

JEAN-CLAUDE ROEGIERS (Ph.D. 1976), a world-renowned engineer and scholar, passed away peacefully February 8, 2022, in Phoenix, Arizona. Jean-Claude is survived by his wife Jeanne and their four children. Shortly after they were married, the Roegiers moved to Minnesota where Jean-Claude pursued his graduate studies with Charles Fairhurst. Roegiers completed his doctorate with a dissertation on hydraulic fracturing. He often claimed that his time at the U was some of the best in his life. He worked for Dowell-Schlumberger, and in 1988 he went to the University of Oklahoma as Professor and Chair of the Petroleum Engineering department and was recognized as one of the top geoengineers in the industry. His multiple contributions include designing and building the hydraulic fracturing characterization facility and leading the development of borehole stability and fracture criteria. Roegiers co-advised over 85 graduate students, obtained in excess of 28 million dollars in external funding, founded a world-class Rock Mechanics Institute, and co-authored more than 250 technical papers. He was a founding member of American Rock Mechanics Association (ARMA), an Honorary Professor at China University in Wuhan, an International Fellow in Japan, and a member of the Science and Technology Analysis Team for the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy.

SHARON B. (EIDE) WEINEL died February 8, 2022, at the age of 91. She is survived by her husband, alumnus JAMES R. WEINEL (BCE 1956). The Weinels have long been friends and supporters of CEGE through the James and Sharon Weinel Chi Epsilon Scholarship and Chi Epsilon office. Jim and Sharon were married 66 years. They originally met as the result of an errant football toss when Jim was a civil engineering student at the University of Minnesota. After graduating, Jim worked in aerospace engineering for five years. In 1963, with three small children and no money in the bank, Jim and Sharon started Gemini, Inc. Sharon was critical to the company, researching leads, working with clients and vendors, and building relationships wherever she went. Gemini is now a major industry with the largest line of dimensional letters in the world.


For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting was held in-person in Washington, DC, in January 2022. Several CEGE students received travel awards from the Center for Transportation Studies (CTS): KWANGHO BAEK, ALI ALIPOUR, and BEHNAM DAVAZDAH EMAMI advised by Alireza Khani; SIMANTA BARMAN, JACOB MARGOLIS, SHI’AN WANG, and TE XU advised by Michael Levin; JHENYFFER OLIVEIRA advised by Mihai Marasteanu; and MINGFENG SHANG and ARIAN ZARE advised by Raphael Stern.
     This was the fourth conference for MINGFENG SHANG, a graduate student advised by Raphael Stern. 
Shang participated in 2018 and 2019 as a master’s student, and in 2021 as a Ph.D. student when the conference was held online. Shang highlights research and community as the two most exciting aspects of the TRB Conference. “The TRB meeting offers opportunities to narrow the distance between transportation professionals. I enjoyed the poster session most. I enjoyed walking around the exhibition hall and communicating with the presenters. I spent about two hours in the Connected and Automated Vehicle Technology session, which is closely related to my dissertation topic. I learned about the cutting-edge methodology in the control of automated vehicles and discussed the most recent research in the transportation field. The conference, and the welcome reception especially is an excellent chance to meet new people and catch up with people I know through research papers. It can be intimidating at first to approach and speak with new people, yet it is a good opportunity to learn from experienced professionals. I find that most of them are kind and friendly.”

MARIAH DORNER, a third year Ph.D. student advised by Sebastian Behrens, received the Minnesota ARCS Scholar Award for the academic years of 2021- 2023. Presentations were made at the Scholar Award Reception held virtually October 28, 2021. “To be recognized and welcomed into the ARCS scholar community is a huge honor,” said Dorner. “It’s validating to be recognized for my work as a student, and the support that the ARCS Foundation provides goes beyond the financial award. I am excited to continue developing a relationship with the ARCS Foundation and to see where this scholarship takes me and my work.” Dorner is investigating the effect of biochar on nutrient removal and contaminant degradation processes in activated sludge systems.

TIANYI LI (a doctoral student advised by Raphael Stern) received a prestigious Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship. The competitive, merit-based fellowship from the Federal Highway Administration funds students pursuing degrees in transportation-related disciplines. Li's fellowship will support his research at the intersection of transportation and data science. Li’s vision is of “a world where research can bridge the gap between transportation and computation by applying computer science methods to solve transportation engineering problems.”

Congratulations to these individuals who have recently completed their doctoral degrees!
OTHMAN OUDGHIRI-IDRISSI (December, adviser Bojan Guzina) “Dynamic Homogenization of Linear Periodic Media and Origami-inspired Structures;”
SVETLANA BARANOVA (December, adviser Sofia Mogilevskaya) “High order imperfect interface modeling of thin layers in two-dimensional potential and linear elasticity problems;”
ADEL SOROUSH (February, advisers Bill Arnold and Lee Penn, Chemistry) “The role of continuous contaminant exposure and natural organic matter on the evolving reactivity of iron oxide nanoparticles;”
ANNDEE HUFF CHESTER (March, adviser Paige Novak) “Zeolite incorporated materials for targeted biomass retention and pollutant removal;” and

LUN GAO (March, adviser Ardeshir Ebtehaj) “Advancing Inversion Techniques for Improved Retrievals of Soil Moisture and Vegetation Optical Depth using Spaceborne L-band Radiometry.”

A week-long Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAV) Career Pathways Camp, a free camp sponsored by CTS, was held in August at the White Bear Lake Area High School–South Campus in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. Several CEGE industry friends helped make this happen. A big thank you to all who helped bring transportation engineering to a diverse group of high school students: AECOM, BOLTON & MENK, City of Minneapolis Department of Public Works, DART Transit, DeLaval, HDR, Indian Motorcycle, Luther White Bear Subaru, Minnesota State Transportation Center for Excellence, MnDOT Aeronautics, MnDOT Office of Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAV-X), MnDOT Office of Maintenance, Navya, Polaris, SICK Sensor Intelligence, SRF CONSULTING GROUP, STANTEC, Tesla St. Paul-Maplewood, and The Plum Catalyst.

The EWB UMN CHAPTER received the 2021 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) Givi Back Award. ASABE Resource Magazine highlighted the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Peace Garden, a local project with the Urban Farm & Garden Alliance, in their November issue.

CHI EPSILON held its annual initiation. New Initiates include Maria Cieniawski, Mats Dale, Hannah Delker, Madeline Fidler (not pictured), Andrew Hyde, Berit Klein, Kennan Miller, Alexander Robertson. Other members in the photo are: Justin Babcock, Sarah McGuiggan, Allie Nguyen, Jake Robbennolt, Nahum Yelizarov.