Civil engineering assistant professor receives NSF Early Career award

By Austin Phillips

Published: Aug 29, 2019 3:50:00 PM

Lauren Beckingham Lauren Beckingham

Lauren Beckingham, assistant professor of civil engineering, has been named a recipient of a National Science Foundation Faculty Early CAREER Development award for her work in environmental engineering.

The $315,000 award is designated toward her work, “Quantifying evolution of accessible mineral surface areas and pore connectivity for improved simulation of mineral reaction rates,” and it is funded through the NSF’s Division of Earth Sciences, Geobiology and Low Temperature Geochemistry.

The award is only the third NSF Early CAREER award in the Department of Civil Engineering’s history.

“In just her four short years here at Auburn, Dr. Beckingham has emerged as one of our most promising and talented researchers and faculty members,” said Andrzej Nowak, chair of civil engineering. “We are thrilled that her hard work and dedication to the environment and engineering is being recognized at this distinguished level.”

Computer simulations are often used to help understand how soils and aquifers change over years and centuries, but simulation is difficult because measurements of reaction rates in the laboratory are different from measurements in nature, and the reason is not clear. The proposed project will seek to reconcile these differences by using advanced imaging methods, laboratory rock weathering experiments and computer simulations. This will help simulate and better understand such processes as contaminant fate, carbon dioxide sequestration, the dissolution and precipitation of minerals, and changes in water quality.

The long-term research goal is to enhance understanding and simulation of the rate, extent and impact of mineral dissolution and precipitation reactions in subsurface systems to better predict flow and transport in these systems, enabling improved risk and impact assessment.

The project also supports a diverse group of undergraduate and graduate students who will be engaged to help increase interest in STEM fields in K-12 students through involvement in outreach activities and the Auburn University OutCELL educational programs. 

The NSF Faculty Early CAREER Development Program is a foundation-wide activity that offers the NSF's most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. Activities pursued by early-career faculty should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research. NSF encourages submission of CAREER proposals from early-career faculty at all CAREER-eligible organizations and especially encourages women, members of underrepresented minority groups, and persons with disabilities to apply.

Media Contact: Austin Phillips, austinp@auburn.edu, 334-844-2444

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