Banks receives ESE’s Distinguished Alumna Award

January 26, 2015

M. Katherine Banks, PhD, vice chancellor for engineering for the Texas A&M University system and dean of the Dwight Look college of Engineering at Texas A&M, received the 2014 Environmental Sciences and Engineering (ESE) Distinguished Alumna Award at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health on Jan. 23.

Dr. Katherine Banks (far left),  winner of the 2014 ESE Distinguished Alumna Award, poses with ESE chair Dr. Mike Aitken, emeritus professor Dr. Francis DiGiano, Dean Barbara K. Rimer and emeritus professor Dr. Donald Lauria just prior to Dr. Bank's lecture.

Dr. Katherine Banks (far left), winner of the 2014 ESE Distinguished Alumna Award, poses with ESE chair Dr. Mike Aitken, emeritus professor Dr. Francis DiGiano, Dean Barbara K. Rimer and emeritus professor Dr. Donald Lauria just prior to her lecture.

Banks, who received her Master of Science in Engineering from the Gillings School and doctorate in civil and environmental engineering from Duke University, presented ESE’s Distinguished Alumni Lecture, “Bacterial Biofilm Characteristics in Environmental Engineering Applications.” [See video.]

As vice chancellor, Banks oversees coordination and collaboration among the engineering, academic and research programs at seven universities in the A&M system, as well as in three state agencies – the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI). Banks also is TEES director, overseeing research administration of more than 4,400 projects and $157M million in sponsored research awards.

As dean and Harold J. Haynes Dean’s Chair in Engineering, she leads one of the largest engineering schools in the country, with more than 13,000 students and nearly 400 faculty. Recently, she initiated the “25 by 25” program, which aims to increase the engineering enrollment at Texas A&M to 25,000 by 2025.

Banks was previously the Bowen Engineering Head for the School of Civil Engineering at Purdue University and the Jack and Kay Hockema Professor at Purdue. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). She has received numerous awards, including the ASCE Petersen Outstanding Woman of the Year Award, ASCE Rudolph Hering Medal, Purdue Faculty Scholar Award, Sloan Foundation Mentoring Fellowship and the American Association of University Women Fellowship.

In introducing Banks’ lecture, Michael Aitken, PhD, chair of the Gillings School’s ESE department, quoted from a nomination letter submitted by 1984 Gillings School alumna Peggy Layne, MSEE.

“Dr. Banks is an advocate and role model for women in engineering and a credit to the [Gillings School] ESE department,” Layne said.


Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or dpesci@unc.edu.

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