Eight engineering assistant professors at The University of Texas at Austin have been awarded Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards from the National Science Foundation, an honor which recognizes promising young faculty and supports their research with five years of funding. Each received $400,000 or more, bringing the total to $3.2 million-plus.
Mary Jo Kirisits, Assistant Professor in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering, is the recipient of this award from the CAEE Department. Kirisits' work will focus on the inadvertent adverse effects that engineered nanomaterials may have on microorganisms, with a special focus on bacteria in engineered water systems, biofilm bacteria and beneficial bacteria versus pathogens.
"Results from this research will provide a fundamental understanding of the unintentional role that nanomaterials play in shaping the microbial communities of engineered processes, including those associated with drinking water, wastewater and water reuse—perhaps demonstrating that the presence of nanomaterials changes the balance among benign, beneficial and pathogenic microorganisms in these systems," Kirisits said.
Kirisits earned her doctorate in environmental engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and completed her post-doctoral training at Northwestern University before joining the university faculty in 2004.