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Professor Shobha Bhatia Receives 2021 Judith Greenberg Seinfeld Scholar Award
Shobha Bhatia, professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, has been named the recipient of the 2021 Judith Greenberg Seinfeld Scholar Award.
Each year, Syracuse University honors the talents of outstanding faculty or students through a program made possible by a generous gift from Judith Greenberg Seinfeld ’56, distinguished alumna of Syracuse University and life member of the Board of Trustees. The award highlights excellence, creativity and innovation and encourages future contributions to society.
The Seinfeld Scholar Program recognizes those who have made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world, who have added to human values, and to ending
human abuse; who have passion for excellence, creativity and originality in academic or artistic fields, and who demonstrate the ability to motivate and bring out the best in others. Seinfeld reflects on a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote—“The “essence of greatness is the perception that virtue is enough”—as the inspiration behind the program.
The award provides $10,000 for Bhatia to undertake an initiative or project of special interest to her.
Bhatia is an internationally recognized leader in geotechnical engineering and in fostering more equity, diversity and inclusion in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
“I am honored to be selected as a Seinfeld Scholar,” says Bhatia. “The award will allow me to further research how to reduce the environmental impact of large-scale projects through the use of natural and sustainable materials, specifically the use of natural fibers, particularly jute and coir. Civil and environmental engineering is a very resource-intensive field that literally moves the earth, where any use of natural materials can have a very large impact.”
Her research efforts focus on the testing, development, design and innovative use of sustainable natural and polymeric materials for the protection of water quality. In the area of soil erosion, a significant issue that can negatively impact surface water quality, she has worked extensively to develop methods to reduce stream bank erosion, evaluate the properties and performance of erosion control products and develop new, innovative products to minimize soil erosion. She has also shown that natural polymers, fiber and product can be effectively used for the dredged sediment dewatering and containment. Using a multidisciplinary collaborative approach, Bhatia has worked closely with manufacturers, national and international agencies, and research centers in the development of sustainable solutions for soil erosion and dewatering/ containment of dredged slurries from water bodies.
“Shobha’s work as an outstanding teacher, researcher and mentor have made her a leader both here on our campus and in her field,” says J. Cole Smith, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science. “She has had a singularly impressive careerlong dedication to improving the representation of women in science and engineering. Indeed, when you talk to her current students or alumni you can see how dedicated she is to the success of all our students.”
Bhatia is a strong advocate and mentor for students and women in STEM fields. She played an integral role in the establishment of the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) program at Syracuse University in 1999 to increase the representation and retention of women
in STEM fields, highlight women scholars and develop advising and mentoring programs. She currently serves as co-director of WiSE. She is currently working with colleagues from Drexel and University of Michigan to establish collaborative and supporting network amongst pre-tenure geotechnical faculty members at national level through her National Science Foundation grant.
She was named as a “Geolegend” by the Geo-Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2020 and a Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor of Teaching Excellence by Syracuse University in 2001. She received the Chancellor’s Citation for Faculty Excellence and Scholarly Distinction, the highest recognition given to faculty at the University, in 2009.