Four Georgia Tech Faculty Elected to National Academy of Engineering

Four Georgia Institute of Technology faculty members have been elected as new members of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Marilyn Brown, Thomas Kurfess, Susan Margulies, and Alexander Shapiro join 83 other new NAE members for 2020 when they are formally inducted during a ceremony at the academy’s annual meeting on Oct. 4 in Washington, D.C.

Election of new NAE members, the culmination of a yearlong process, recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to "engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature" and to "the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education."  

“It’s the honor of a lifetime to be recognized by the National Academy of Engineering for the impact we’ve have on understanding lung injuries in the critical care unit and traumatic brain injuries in children,” said Margulies, chair of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University and, with Brown, one of just three women on the Georgia Tech faculty accorded NAE membership – one of the highest professional distinctions an engineer can receive.

“Our work is deeply collaborative, and I am grateful to the engineers, scientists, physicians, and patients who are partners in our journey,” Margulies added.

Margulies, a researcher in the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at Tech and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Injury Biomechanics at Emory, was elected, “for elaborating the traumatic injury thresholds of brain and lung in terms of structure-function mechanisms,” according to the NAE announcement.

Using an integrated biomechanics approach, Margulies’ research program spans the micro-to-macro scales in two distinct areas, traumatic brain injury and ventilator-induced lung injury. Her work has generated new knowledge about the structural and functional responses of the brain and lungs to their mechanical environment. Margulies came to Georgia Tech in 2017 from the University of Pennsylvania, where she’d been a professor of bioengineering, and had earned her Master of Science in Engineering and Ph.D. in Bioengineering.

Brown, a Regents and Brook Byers Professor of Sustainable Systems in the School of Public Policy, was co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 (for co-authorship of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group III Assessment Report on Mitigation of Climate Change, Chapter 6). 

She joined Georgia Tech in 2006 after a career at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where she led several national climate change mitigation studies and became a leader in the analysis and interpretation of energy futures in the United States. Her research at Tech focuses on the design and impact of policies aimed at accelerating the development and deployment of sustainable energy technologies, emphasizing the electric utility industry. She was elected to NAE “for bridging engineering, social and behavioral sciences, and policy studies to achieve cleaner electric energy.” 


Brown, who earned her Ph.D. at the Ohio State University, co-founded and chaired the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance, served two terms as a presidential appointee on the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority – the nation’s largest public power provider – and also served two terms on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Electricity Advisory Committee, where she led the Smart Grid Subcommittee. 

“The most rewarding feature of my career has been working toward solutions with colleagues across disciplines,” Brown said.

Shapiro is the Russell Chandler III Chair and professor in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, where his research is focused on stochastic programming, risk analysis, simulation-based optimization, and multivariate statistical analysis.

In 2013, he was awarded the INFORMS Khachiyan Prize for lifetime achievements in optimization. He received the 2018 Dantzig Prize from the Mathematical Optimization Society and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

Since earning his Ph.D. in applied mathematics-statistics from Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in 1981, Shapiro has made substantial contributions to the fields of optimization and large-scale, stochastic programming, and he was elected to NAE “for contributions to the theory, computation, and application of stochastic programming.” 

Kurfess is professor and HUSCO/Ramirez Distinguished Chair in Fluid Power and Motion Control in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, where he has helped guide the evolution of technology as a pioneer in the digital transformation of manufacturing. 

Improving manufacturing technology is a pursuit that has roots in his childhood. “I grew up in my father’s machine shop,” said Kurfess, who has a special fondness for mom-and-pop operations. He was elected by the NAE “for development and implementation of innovative digital manufacturing technologies and system architectures.”

“I’m proud that the work we do has a positive impact on small and medium-sized enterprises, which are about 99% of the manufacturing operations, as well as large operations,” said Kurfess, who earned all of his degrees at MIT. “Our work targets people who are implementing the digital thread in manufacturing, and what the digital thread will do is make sure those smaller enterprises, those mom and pops, can have access to the latest and greatest technologies.”

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