SMU Professor Receives 2019 Petersen Award

ASCE has honored Barbara Ellen Spang Minsker, Ph.D., M.ASCE, with the 2019 Margaret S. Petersen Award for her technical accomplishments, leadership, and commitment to mentoring women pursuing engineering careers, aligning with the ideals that the award’s namesake championed throughout her life. Minsker is chair of the civil and environmental engineering department at Southern Methodist University’s Lyle School of Engineering in Dallas, TX.

Photo of Barbara Ellen Spang Minsker

Through two highly acclaimed books she authored, The Joyful Professor: How to Shift from Surviving to Thriving in the Faculty Life (2010) and Discovering the Path of Success and Happiness: Mindful Living with Purpose and Resiliency (2014), Minsker developed a course that uses a unique synthesis of leadership techniques to teach her students how to navigate through conflict and uncertainty. The extremely popular course has attracted students from across the SMU campus.

Since the late 1990s, Minsker has successfully advised and mentored 17 Ph.D. students and 24 master’s students. She is also engaged in research to develop innovative systems approaches to improve the sustainability and resilience of coupled human and natural systems.

ASCE’s Margaret S. Petersen Award recognizes a female member of ASCE or EWRI who has demonstrated exemplary service to the water resources and environmental science and engineering community.

Minsker also has been honored by ASCE with the Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize in 2003, and EWRI’s Outstanding Achievement Award in 2005.


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