The Recipients of 2018 RA/TA Awards

| October 12, 2018

The Sonny Astani Department honors its exceptional research and teaching assistants

Winners of the 2018 RA/TA Awards with Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty. From left to right, back row: Prof. Amy Childress, Mohammad Sowlat, Prof. Kelly Sanders, Prof. Burcin Becerik-Gerber, Prof. and Chair Lucio Soibelman, Prof. Qiming Wang; front row: Runhe Zhu, Lauren Crawford, Rebecca Peer, Kun-Hao Yu.

On October 10, faculty, students and staff from the Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering recognized the work several exceptional graduate students at their annual Research Assistant and Teaching Assistant Awards. Here are the award winners:

Best Research Assistants:

Rebecca Peer (middle), one of the three Best Research Assistants, with Stephen Schrank Early Career Chair and Associate Professor Burcin Becerik-Gerber (left) and Dr. Teh Fu Yen Early Career Chair abd Assistant Professor Kelly Sanders (right). Photo/Geraldine Perry

Rebecca Peer
Rebecca Peer is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in environmental engineering. Under the advisement of Assistant Professor Kelly Sanders, Dr. Teh Fu Yen Early Career Chair, Peer is developing ways to evaluate, quantify and simulate the environmental impacts of the U.S. energy economy, focusing on the amount of water used by the electricity grid. Peer earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering from Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania before earning her master’s degree at USC. In the spring of 2018, she received the WiSE Merit Award for Current Ph.D. Students. She is also fluent in French and a member of the triathlon team.

Allyson McGaughey
Allyson McGaughey is an environmental engineering Ph.D. student advised by Professor Amy Childress, Director of the Environmental Engineering program. McGaughey research focuses on membrane-based water treatment to recover resource from challenging waters and wastewaters. She earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Washington and a master’s in environmental engineering from USC. She is also a scuba diver and plays the cello.

Kun-Hao Yu
As a civil engineering Ph.D. student advised by Assistant Professor Qiming Wang, Kun-Hao Yu research focuses on modeling and manufacturing self-healing materials for resilient structures and wastewater treatment. He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from National Central University in Taiwan where he modeled new earthquake-resistant structures. He earned a master’s degree in structural engineering from USC and was awarded the Viterbi Graduate School Merit Fellowship and the USC-Taiwan Fellowship, a prestigious award offered jointly through USC and the Taiwan Ministry of Education.

Best Teaching Assistants:

Lauren Crawford (middle), one of the three Best Teaching Assistants, with Environmental Engineering Director and Professor Amy Childress (left) and Department Chair Lucio Soibelman (right). Photo/Geraldine Perry

Lauren Crawford
Lauren Crawford is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in environmental engineering advised by Childress. She earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Widener University in Pennsylvania before coming to USC to earn her master’s in environmental engineering. Crawford is the teaching assistant for CE 334: Mechanical Behavior of Materials and CE 467: Geotechnical Engineering where her students have described her as open and friendly with a passion for teaching and environmental and civil engineering. In May 2018, she received Viterbi’s Jenny Wang Excellence in Teaching Award.

Mohammad Sowlat
Mohammad Sowlat is an environmental engineering Ph.D. student advised by Fred Champion Professor Constantinos Sioutas. He earned his master’s degree in environmental health engineering at the Tehran University of Medical Science in Iran. At USC, Sowlat is the teaching assistant for ENE 535: Air Pollution Management: Exposure, Health Effects and Risk and his students describe him as “an amazing TA” who is helpful and supportive.

Runhe Zhu
Advised by Stephen Schrank Early Career Chair and Associate Professor Burcin Becerik-Gerber, Runhe Zhu is a civil engineering Ph.D. student studying informatics for intelligent built environments. He earned a bachelor’s degree in construction management from Tianjin University in China before joining the Astani department as a Viterbi Fellow in 2017. Zhu was a teaching assistant for CE 502: Construction Accounting and Finance. His students describe him as friendly, patient and always willing to help.

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