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Mary J.S. Roth ’83, professor and head of civil and environmental engineering, has been named an ACE Fellow by the American Council on Education. She is one of 38 honorees for the 2006-07 academic year.

The ACE Fellows Program prepares senior leaders to serve American colleges and universities by enabling participants to immerse themselves in the culture, policies, and decision-making processes of another institution. Fellows spend an extended period of time on another campus, working directly with presidents and other senior leaders to observe how they address strategic planning, resource allocation, development, policy, and other issues and challenges. The program condenses years of on-the-job experience and skills development into a single year.

In accordance with program guidelines, plans will now be developed regarding the specifics of Roth’s year as ACE Fellow.

After completing her B.S. in civil engineering at Lafayette, Roth earned an M.S. from Cornell University and Ph.D. from the University of Maine. Since returning to her alma mater in 1991 as a faculty member, she has received many honors highlighting her groundbreaking research and exceptional dedication and achievement as a teacher and mentor of undergraduate students.

Among these is a Fulbright grant to study with scientists at the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, Oslo, in 2000-01. There she continued research she had begun at Lafayette, evaluating potential geotechnical applications of multi-electrode resistivity testing (a method of studying the soil and rock materials below the ground surface).

In 2002 she received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for research on improving methods of investigating sites located in sinkhole areas. In 2004 Roth and Laurie Caslake, assistant professor of biology, received an NSF grant for interdisciplinary research to determine whether bacteria can be used to strengthen soil that would otherwise be too weak to safely support buildings.

One of Roth’s top priorities as an educator is including students in her research projects. She has co-authored more than 15 articles and conference papers with student researchers, including Adam Faroni ’04, Sandra Henning ’05, and Ron Manney ’05. She’s currently mentoring Rachael Oleski ’06 (Erie, Pa.) in honors research on the effect of carbonate content on soil strength.

“I just like students. It’s fun getting to know them and to work with them,” she says. “I really appreciate what I got as a Lafayette student in terms of one-on-one attention from faculty. I didn’t find that at the schools where I received my advanced degrees.”

Roth and Kristen Sanford Bernhardt, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, received the American Society for Engineering Education’s Glenn L. Martin Best Paper Award in 2005 for their article “Undergraduate Research: The Lafayette Experience.”

“The opportunity for students to conduct one-on-one research with a faculty member is a strength of the Lafayette College environment. Lafayette encourages undergraduate research in all disciplines through a variety of programs, including independent studies, honors theses, and paid research assistantships (called the EXCEL Scholars program),” the paper states. “On average, approximately one quarter of the students in the [civil and environmental engineering] department are involved in research with faculty in any given semester, and a significantly higher percentage participate at some time during their Lafayette careers.”

Roth was named Engineer of the Year for 2000 by the Lehigh Valley chapter of the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers and 1999 Engineer of the Year by the Lehigh Valley section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. She received Lafayette’s Marquis Distinguished Teaching Award in 2002 and James P. Crawford Award for excellence in teaching in 1999.

Founded in 1918, ACE is the nation’s unifying voice for higher education and serves as a consensus leader on key higher education issues and seeks to influence public policy through advocacy, research, and program initiatives. By fostering greater collaboration and new partnerships within and outside higher education, ACE helps colleges and universities anticipate and address the challenges of the 21st century and contribute to a stronger nation and a better world. It’s members and associates are approximately 1,800 accredited, degree-granting colleges and universities and higher education-related associations, organizations, and corporations.

Categorized in: Academic News