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Laura J. Steinberg named dean of Syracuse University's L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science

May 06, 2008

Kevin C. Quinn
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Kevin C. Quinn

Laura J. Steinberg, professor and chair of the Department of Environmental and Civil Engineering at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas and an internationally known civil and environmental engineering scholar, has been named the new dean of Syracuse University's L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science (LCS). The appointment, announced today by Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric F. Spina, is effective Aug. 1.

Steinberg has been a member of the SMU faculty since 2006 and was named department chair in 2007. Previously, she spent more than a decade in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Tulane University in New Orleans as both an assistant professor (1995-2001) and an associate professor (2001-06). She was also a co-founder of Tulane's Earth & Ecosystem Sciences interdisciplinary Ph.D. program and an adjunct associate professor in the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

"I am delighted to be joining the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science at Syracuse University," Steinberg says. "I'm looking forward to working closely with the faculty, staff and students as we grow the college, implement the strategic vision, and find more ways to connect our work to the needs of the community and the urgent issues facing our world."

Steinberg is the first external candidate to be recruited as dean of the college in more than 100 years. She will also join a select group, becoming only the fourth woman to currently serve as dean of an engineering/computer science school among the 62 member institutions of the Association of American Universities (AAU). Steinberg has also received a courtesy appointment from the Department of Public Administration in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs in recognition of her scholarly work at the interface of engineering and policy, and in anticipation of close collaboration with Maxwell faculty.

"I am impressed with Laura's intellect, energy and her understanding of the role that LCS can play in developing interdisciplinary programs across SU's schools and colleges," Spina says. "Laura understands very well the changing, and increasingly important, role of engineering and computer science in society. Her professional expertise -- at the interface of technology and policy -- is a strong confirmation of the direction in which she will move the college: toward greater leveraging of SU's strengths for academic and research purposes. This is certainly a direction that will result in greater distinction and impact for LCS."

A resident of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina devastated the city and the Gulf Coast region in August 2005, Steinberg is a pioneer in a new field within civil and environmental engineering known as Natech disaster research. Natech, a combination of the words natural and technological, is the study of how the effects of natural disasters can be much greater in industrialized areas because of environmental factors. Steinberg and others engaged in this research have focused their efforts on the engineering and development of methods that will reduce those impacts.

Her research also focuses on urban infrastructure and sustainability, environmental modeling and impact assessment, environmental statistics and diffusion of technological innovation.

Steinberg served as a faculty scholar on the Critical Infrastructure Protection Group in the Science and Technology Division of the Department of Homeland Security from 2005-06, where she was a collaborator on the "National Plan for Research and Development in Support of Critical Infrastructure Protection." She was a visiting scientist at the Institute for Crisis, Disaster and Risk Management at The George Washington University in 2005-06; a visiting scholar at the Wagner School of Public Service's Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems at New York University in 2004; and a visiting associate professor at Duke University's School of the Environment in 2003-04.

She is a member of the Science Advisory Board (Drinking Water Committee) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and also serves as associate editor of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Natural Hazards Review and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Steinberg is the author of numerous published articles and a principal investigator or co-principal investigator on numerous research grant projects.

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