Rice University structural engineer Jamie Padgett has earned one of Texas’ highest academic honors, the Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Engineering from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST).
Given annually since 2006, O’Donnell Awards are individual honors that include a $25,000 honorarium and recognize rising stars in five research categories. Padgett, the Stanley C. Moore Professor in Engineering and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was recognized for her life-saving research in infrastructure sustainability and resiliency in hazard-prone regions.
Padgett’s research focuses on identifying and minimizing the risks that earthquakes, storms, corrosion and other hazards pose to critical infrastructure, including highways and industrial facilities. Instead of looking at a single threat, like how a bridge will perform in an earthquake, Padgett’s research group studies multiple hazards and multiple threats that systems of infrastructure face over time. The research bolsters public safety and has led to strategies for enhancing the reliability, resilience and sustainability of both infrastructure and communities.
“Jamie Padgett is exceptionally talented and has always been at the forefront of not just looking at the built environment as it relates to natural hazards but also at how our social systems and behaviors interact and are impacted as well,” said Rice President Reginald DesRoches, a faculty colleague in Padgett’s department who nominated her for the award. “She gets that you can’t look at everything in silos, especially when it comes to infrastructure systems. You must look at the interdependencies and come up with a multihazard approach, which makes the work much more complex.”
Other 2023 O’Donnell Award winners with Rice ties are Baylor College of Medicine’s Erez Lieberman Aiden, who was honored for research in physical sciences, and ConocoPhillips’ Chengbo Li, who was recognized for technology innovation. Aiden, an associate professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor College of Medicine, is a senior scientist at the Rice-based Center for Theoretical Biological Physics and an adjunct faculty member in Rice’s Department of Computer Science. Li, a staff geophysicist at ConocoPhillips, received his doctorate in computational and applied mathematics from Rice in 2011.
TAMEST will present the 2023 O’Donnell Awards at its annual meeting in Houston in May.
Padgett’s O’Donnell honor comes on the heels of being awarded one of only five $1 million 2022 BRITE Fellow grants from the National Science Foundation’s Boosting Research Ideas for Transformative and Equitable Advances in Engineering program. Announced in December, the five-year grants allow established leaders in their field to pursue high-risk, high-reward research. Padgett’s BRITE project will support climate justice and equitable disaster resilience by creating adaptable models that address inequities in data collection and algorithms.
Padgett is a fellow of the Structural Engineering Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE) and was a founding chair of the institute’s technical committee on multiple hazard mitigation. She served on the ASCE reconnaissance team that assessed damage to bridges and highways caused by Hurricane Katrina, and she has represented the United States at the National Academy of Engineering China-America Frontiers of Engineering Symposium in China. Her previous honors include a 2011 NSF CAREER Award and the 2017 ASCE Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize.
Co-founded in 2004 by Rice Nobel laureate Richard Smalley, TAMEST is a 330-member organization composed of Texas-based Nobel laureates and members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society.
Rice University structural engineer Jamie Padgett has received the 2023 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Engineering from the Texas Academy of Medicine, Engineering, Science and Technology in recognition of her life-saving research in infrastructure sustainability and resiliency in hazard-prone regions.
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CAPTION: Jamie Padgett is the Stanley C. Moore Professor in Engineering and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University. (Credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University)
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