Civil, Environmental and Geospatial Engineering 2021 Department Awards

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Each spring semester, the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering honors students from our Department with an award ceremony/banquet for all nominees for various awards. Unfortunately, we were unable to recognize our extraordinary students in person this year but would like to give them a hearty Congratulations on their commitment to excellence!

Undergraduate Student Awards


Nicole Bloom Award for Environmental Sustainability

Maddie Barrie

This award is made annually to an undergraduate civil or environmental engineering student who has demonstrated leadership, passion, and activism for effecting environmental sustainability at the local, national, or global level.

Maddie Barrie was selected for the 2021 Nicole Bloom Award, she was nominated by Dr. Stan Vitton.  As an undergraduate Maddie has been very active in the area of environmental protection and research.  In 2019 she worked as a Student Trainee in the field of environmental protection with the Federal Regulatory Commission in Washington D.C..  In 2018 she was accepted as an Undergraduate Research Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  On campus, she served as President of the student chapter of Engineers Without Borders for implementing engineering projects in Panama.   

Maddie is graduating with a BS in environmental engineering. She will begin working as a Biological Science Technician at Isle Royale National Park after graduation.

The Nicole Bloom award is accompanied by the Pati and Soumitri Reddy $1000 endowed scholarship.

Department Undergraduate Service Award

Kaitlyn Wehner

This award was created to recognize a CEE student that has shown exemplary service to the CEE Department through student organizations affiliated with the Department (ASCE, Chi Epsilon, SEEN, EWB, Rail Engineering Activity Club, and Enterprise.

Kaitlyn Wehner was selected for the 2021 Department Undergraduate Service Award.  Kaitlyn was nominated by her Enterprise advisor, Dr. Audra Morse.  Kaitlyn has served as the President of the Built World Environment Enterprise team and was a crucial member of the team that placed first in the Runway Safety/Runway Incursions/Runway Excursions Challenge with their design titled, Runway Intersection Marking. The same team recently received a grant from the Old Dominion University Research Foundation Next Step Program to develop the necessary FAA guidance documents so that their design to mitigate runway incursions can become a reality.  Kaitlyn is also the Chair of the CEE Student Advisory Committee. Kaitlyn has assisted with several student recruiting events and has served as a mentor for freshmen students. 

Kaitlyn is graduating with a BS in civil engineering and will be joining Westwood Professional Services in Appleton, Wisconsin.  Kaitlyn will miss the people and the area as everyone is very hardworking and supportive of one another and the Houghton area is an ideal place to explore. She is thankful to Michigan Tech for all of the opportunities she was granted to explore her interests.

The CEE Undergraduate Department Service Award is accompanied by a $500 scholarship.

Departmental Scholar

Theresa Passe

Theresa Passe was selected to represent the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering as our 2021 Department Scholar and to be considered for the Provost’s Award for Scholarship.  Theresa, an environmental engineering major, exemplifies all of the characteristics that are the hallmarks of a highly achieving student and scholar.  She not only is dedicated to her studies but also participates in research, student professional organizations, and is a member of the Varsity Cross Country and Track team.  She has worked in undergraduate research with Drs. Becker and Seagren on wastewater-based monitoring of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.  Theresa  began challenging herself by exploring additional research questions that could be researched. This inquisitiveness and engagement inspired Theresa to explore potential research hypotheses related to wastewater-based epidemiology that could be tested through a Michigan Tech SURF project. She developed a SURF proposal that will build on the work that she has been doing in Dr. Becker’s laboratory and through a creative research plan, improve our understanding of the fate of SARS-CoV-2 in our water infrastructure. Dr. Noel Urban also endorsed Theresa as our Department Scholar based on the high level of intellectual curiosity exhibited in class and excellent communication skills.  He also noted how she has sought out experiences in her summer internships (Twin Cities WWTP, Stantec Consulting) that have exposed her to lab bench- and pilot-scale experimentation with treatment processes.

David W. Hand Environmental Process Engineering Award

This award is named after Professor Emeritus David Hand who designed the environmental engineering process lab and taught the class for over 15 years. Dr. Hand is internationally known for his expertise in water treatment.

Amanda Freele
Amanda Freele

This award recognizes a team of students from the CEE 4509 capstone environmental engineering class for outstanding technical skills in the laboratory, outstanding teamwork and professionalism, effective oral and written communications, and excellence in safety protocol as recognized by their peers and supported by the instructor.

Clinton Ottman
Clinton Ottman

The team that Dr. Jennifer Becker and Dr. Eric Seagren found to best embody the spirit of this award is comprised of the following individuals:

Amanda Freele
Clinton Ottman
Taylor Poprawski

Taylor Poprawski
Taylor Poprawski

Each team member will receive a $100 scholarship from the CEE Department.

Graduate Student Awards


Danielle Ladwig Award for Graduate Excellence

The Danielle Ladwig Award is made annually to a graduate level student in civil or environmental engineering in recognition of outstanding achievement in academics, research, and service, in memory of our friend and colleague, Danielle Ladwig.  

The nominees for this special award are:

Aynaz Biniyaz, PhD candidate in civil engineering, nominated by Dr. Zhen Liu
Emily Shaw, PhD candidate in environmental engineering, nominated by Dr. Noel Urban
Rose Turner, MS candidate in environmental engineering, nominated by Joan Chadde
Alexandra Waypa, MS candidate in environmental engineering, nominated by Dr. Eric Seagren and Dr. Jennifer Becker

Emily Shaw

This year Emily Shaw was selected for the 2021 Danielle Ladwig Award.  She was nominated for the award by her advisor, Dr. Noel Urban, who highlighted her admirable record of academic, research, and service accomplishments. Ms. Shaw came to Michigan Tech with a BS in Public Affairs from Indiana University.  She obtained her MS in Environmental Engineering Sciences in 2018 and began her doctoral program immediately thereafter.  She has submitted one manuscript from her MS research (in review), and she will submit the first chapter of her doctoral research for publication this spring.  As a Master’s student, she gave seven presentations at regional, national, and international conferences.  As a doctoral student, she has presented five times at national and international conferences.  For her MS and Ph.D. research, she was awarded graduate fellowships by the Michigan Space Grant Consortium.  She served as GTA for three years for CEE 3502 and received the departmental Teaching Assistant of the Year Award twice for her effective work with undergraduate students.  True to the spirit of Danielle Ladwig, she is active in service to the community (co-organizer Houghton March for Science, Board member Keweenaw Roller Derby), the university (planning committee for World Water Day for two years, moderator for Indigenous People’s Day Social Justice Panel, departmental representative to Graduate Student Government, member Graduate Student Government Diversity Committee), and science societies (volunteer technical host for State of Lake Ontario Conference, technical host for Annual Conference of the International Assoc. for Great Lakes Research).  Ms. Shaw is a well-rounded graduate student who excels academically and in research, and yet always makes time for local and professional service.

This award is accompanied by the Pati and Soumitri Reddy $1000 endowed fellowship.

Wilbur Haas Graduate Research Excellence Award

The Graduate Research Excellence Award is made annually to a graduate-level student in civil or environmental engineering to recognize outstanding student scholarship and research contributions.

The nominees for this year’s award are the following and are all truly exceptional researchers:

Behnam Azmoon, PhD candidate in civil engineering, nominated by Dr. Stan Vitton
Aynaz Biniyaz, PhD candidate in civil engineering, nominated by Dr. Zhen Liu
Yunxiang Ma, PhD candidate in civil engineering, nominated by Dr. Qingli Dai
Xiaodong Zhou, PhD candidate in civil engineering, nominated by Dr. Zhanping You

This year Xiaodong Zhou was selected for the 2021 Graduate Research Excellence Award.  His extraordinary record of peer-reviewed first author publications and presentations shows his dedication to conducting quality research.  In his nomination, Dr. Zhanping You expressed his pleasure in working with Xiaodong over the past four years to study the innovative approach of improving the performance of asphalt pavements.   During his study at Michigan Tech, Xiaodong has demonstrated enthusiasm to research projects, innovation in thinking, and excellent collaboration skills. He has made significant contributions to the research of asphalt mixture numerical modeling, because of the depth of knowledge and advanced skills that he has developed over his doctoral study.  To date, his research has led to 10 published peer-reviewed journal articles and 7 conference proceeding articles, and 8 conference presentations. His publications were published in well-acknowledged journals that top in the civil material research field. Of which, 6 articles in Construction and Building Materials (5-year impact factor at 4.685), and 1 article in Journal of Cleaner Production (5-year impact factor at 7.0). He also published 2 proceeding articles and delivered 4 presentations in the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, which is one of the largest and most significant conferences in transportation engineering. His articles have been cited 122 times, according to google scholar. His research has been recognized as solid and innovative, especially in the area of asphalt mixture numerical simulation and aggregate morphology analysis.

This award is accompanied by a $1000 Wilbur Haas Memorial Fellowship.

Student Voted Awards


The CEE Department has two awards that are voted on by the departmental students, the GTA of the Year and the Faculty of the Year Award.  We appreciate the work of Chi Epsilon and their advisor, Stephen Morse, for conducting the voting.  

Faculty of the Year Award

The award will recognize two faculty – the top-voted faculty from the Civil Engineering program and the top-voted faculty from the Environmental Engineering program.  This award will be accompanied by a $1000 transfer to the faculty IRAD index.

Kris Mattila
Kris Mattila

Dr. Kris Mattila joined the faculty of the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering in 1997.  He brings years of practice in construction engineering to share with the CEE students.  He instructs CEE 4333 Estimating and Planning , CEE 3332 Fundamentals of Construction Engineering, and CEE 3331 Professional Practice.

Daisuke Minakata
Daisuke Minakata

Dr. Daisuke Minakata joined the faculty of the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering in 2013.  His teaching interests are in the environmental engineering domain and include CEE5503 Physical-Chemical Treatment Processes, CEE 5501 Environmental Process and Design, and CEE 4503 Water Treatment Principles and Design.  He has an active research program and has interests in sustainable water and wastewater treatment and management, and the development of assessing and predicting tools for water treatment technologies.

GTA of the Year

Emily Shaw
Emily Shaw

GTA of the Year Award – which is accompanied by a $500 fellowship. As all of you are aware, the CEE Department has a number of dedicated graduate students that assist faculty with classes as Graduate Teaching Assistants.  The hard work that they put into the classes and labs is noticed and appreciated. 

Emily Shaw is the 2021 GTA of the year.  She was the GTA for CEE 3502, Environmental Monitoring and Measurement.

Department Citizen Award


The Department Citizenship Award recognizes a faculty or staff member that ‘goes the extra mile’ whether it be in representing the Department, helping colleagues, or participating at events.  The award is decided by the Department Chair.

This was a tough decision as so many have stepped up to ensure our teaching, research and service activities excelled during the last year, despite shrinking budgets, colleague departures, and challenges created because of COVID. 

Melanie Watkins
Melanie Watkins

Department Chair, Audra Morse, would like to recognize Dr. Melanie Watkins for her efforts to grow the Department research program.  She works with the VPRs office to identify research programs related to faculty members’ interests, she organizes conversations around the programs to establish research teams and assists in proposal document development. 

Angela Keranen
Angela Keranen

Dr. Morse would also like to recognize Angela Keranen for her efforts to promote our graduate and undergraduate programs in social media. Additionally, she has supported the electronic delivery of the Environmental Engineering Graduate Seminar and created a special Graduation Blast and Senior Design Webpage to celebrate our graduating students’ successes.  


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