Dean Walker Honored with AAAS Fellowship

Dr. Sharon L. Walker, dean of the College of Engineering and Distinguished Professor of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, has been elected to the rank of Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society and publisher of leading research through its Science family of journals. She is one of 443 science and technology academics and professionals throughout the country to be so honored.

The fellowships were announced by the AAAS Council this week.

Walker was named in the Section of Engineering, and was among 38 colleagues from such institutions as MIT, Duke, UC Davis, Vanderbilt, Howard, and CalTech. She will receive a certificate and rosette at the AAAS Annual Meeting next February in Seattle, Washington.

The Council annually elects new members whose efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are “scientifically or socially distinguished,” according to the association. Walker was chosen for “distinguished contributions to environmental engineering, particularly for contaminant fate and transport and nanoparticle implications, and for strong advocacy of diversity in engineering education.”

“I am humbled at being acknowledged with this fellowship,” said Walker. “The AAAS and its Fellows have not only led the research community, but importantly, led the conversation about the impact of our science on the well-being of our communities and world around us.

“As a scholar and as an administrator, I believe we are obligated to connect the work we do to the problems the world faces now as well as those that are emerging. As part of the AAAS Fellows community, I will be able to bring this high-level dialogue about these emerging challenges back to my college and to my colleagues. This is a valuable way to calibrate our work and the impact we can make.”

Walker was nominated by Dr. Charles Haas, the LD Betz Professor of Environmental Engineering and department head in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, himself an AAAS Fellow.

“Sharon has been both an excellent researcher and also an academic administrator making an impact on increasing diversity of the engineering profession,” said Haas. “The breadth of her work focuses on the fate and transport of materials, especially particles, in the environment. This has been applied to considering flow through porous media of microorganisms and nanoparticles, and the effect of solution chemistry on such transport. She has also studied the impact of nanoparticles on soil properties and plant health and nutrition.

“This work has important applications in protecting public and environmental health,” he added.

In addition, this summer Walker accepted the Bronze Diversity Recognition Award from the American Society of Engineering Education on behalf of the College of Engineering, which grew out of a Deans Diversity Pledge established by the Society in June of 2018.

Walker has received recognition from professional colleagues for her work, most notably as the chair of the 2017 Gordon Research Conference in Environmental Nanotechnology; the Mary Ann Liebert Award for Publication Excellence in Environmental Engineering Science in 2018; and through her status as a fellow with the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP) in 2017.

Walker has twice been named a Fulbright Scholar. She has served as dean of Drexel’s College of Engineering since September of 2018. She previously served as interim dean at the Bourns College of Engineering at the University of California, Riverside. Walker is a Yale University-trained water quality systems expert.

The AAAS has been awarding fellowships since 1874. Founded in 1848, AAAS was the first permanent organization formed to promote the development of science and engineering at the national level and to represent the interests of all its disciplines.