Purdue News

July 27, 2006

Purdue names new head of civil engineering

Katherine Banks
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University has named M. Katherine Banks, an internationally recognized researcher and educator, as the new head for its School of Civil Engineering.

Banks, a Purdue civil engineering professor who is currently serving as interim head of civil engineering and interim head for the Purdue Division of Construction Engineering and Management, will become the head of the school on Aug. 1.

"Kathy's vision, creativity and energy, combined with a stellar research record, set her apart from the rest of the candidates," said Leah Jamieson, interim dean for the College of Engineering and Ransburg Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "She is an individual who has made important contributions to her field, has led major multidisciplinary research projects, is passionate about education and has demonstrated very strong leadership abilities."

Banks has been at Purdue since 1997 and is an internationally recognized expert in the area of biological treatment systems for pollution remediation. She currently is the director of the EPA Midwest Hazardous Substance Research Center and serves as the associate director of the NASA Specialized Center for Research and Training for Advanced Life Support, both headquartered at Purdue. She served as co-director for the 21st Century Center for Phytoremediation Research and Development at Purdue, a multidisciplinary center composed of plant biochemists, physiologists, ecologists, microbiologists, soil scientists and engineers. She also is involved with the new Intelligent Infrastructure Initiative at Purdue and serves as chair of the Intelligent Environmental Systems cluster hiring committee within that initiative.

"It is an exciting time for Purdue's School of Civil Engineering, and I believe the next five to 10 years will be a time of new beginnings and continued excellence for our school," Banks said. "The demand for our graduates at both the undergraduate and graduate levels is very strong. In addition, our research and teaching programs are highly ranked, and our alumni support is outstanding.

"I plan to initiate an active phase of educational program growth, curriculum reform and development of innovative multidisciplinary research programs."

The National Science Foundation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Transportation, as well as private industry, have supported Banks' research.

Banks earned a bachelor's degree in engineering from the University of Florida, a master's degree in environmental engineering from the University of North Carolina and a doctorate in civil and environmental engineering from Duke University.

She received the Purdue University Faculty Scholar Award in the years of 2000-05, the Sloan Foundation Mentoring Fellowship in 1993-94 and the American Association of University Women American Fellowship in 1988-89. She is a professional engineer in Indiana and Kansas.

A 12-member committee led by Michael Kreger, professor of civil engineering, conducted a national search and reviewed 16 applicants for the position.

The Purdue School of Civil Engineering has 530 undergraduate students, 300 graduate students and 57 faculty members. The school's undergraduate engineering program was ranked 7th, its graduate engineering program was ranked 8th, and its environmental engineering program was ranked 17th in the most-recent U.S. News and World Report rankings.

Writer: Cynthia Sequin, (765) 494-4192, csequin@purdue.edu

Sources: Leah Jamieson, (765) 494-5346, lhj@purdue.edu

M. Katherine Banks, (765) 496-3424, kbanks@ecn.purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


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