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CEE announces three new professorships

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering professors (l-r) Elfatih Eltahir, Admir Masic, and Benedetto Marelli will receive named professorships, effective July 1.
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering professors (l-r) Elfatih Eltahir, Admir Masic, and Benedetto Marelli will receive named professorships, effective July 1.
Photo: Gretchen Ertl Photography

Effective July 1, three Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) professors will receive named professorships in recognition for their important contributions to the department and the Institute.

Professor Elfatih Eltahir will hold the Institute-wide Breene M. Kerr Professorship for a five year term. Eltahir’s research focuses on understanding how regional land-use and land-cover change, as well as global climate change, may impact society through shifts in the patterns of water availability, extreme weather, and spread of vector-borne diseases. Working with his students, he develops sophisticated numerical models that are used for predicting such impacts at regional scales. 

Eltahir earned a BS in civil engineering from the University of Khartoum, and an MS in hydrology from the National University of Ireland. He then enrolled at MIT where he earned both an SM in meteorology and a doctorate in hydro-climatology in 1993. He continued at the Institute as a postdoc, and advanced first as an assistant professor, then to associate, and ultimately full professor of civil and environmental engineering in 2003. For the last three years, he has also served as CEE associate department head and led the department’s undergraduate program curriculum development. In 2015, Eltahir was appointed faculty director of the new CEE-housed collaborative program between MIT and the engineering school at the King Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Morocco. The initiative seeks to attract research projects from across MIT on topics of common interest to both institutions.

“Thank you for your great work in research, education and service, and in particular for your leadership within CEE over the past three years,” said department head and McAfee Professor of Engineering Markus J. Buehler.

The department’s other two appointments — professors Benedetto Marelli and Admir Masic — joined MIT as assistant professors in 2015 and will each hold their career development professorships for three years as a reflection of their great work and significant potential for future contributions.

“We’re thrilled by these appointments in civil and environmental engineering," says Ian A. Waitz, dean of the School of Engineering. “Professorships give us the ability to recognize faculty for their accomplishments, and they create opportunities for our researchers to expand their perspectives and take their work in bold new directions.” 

Marelli, who researches self-assembly processes at the molecular level with applications to sustainable materials, agriculture, and additive manufacturing, was selected for the Institute-wide Paul M. Cook Career Development Professorship. He is very interested in entrepreneurship and innovation, and has engaged alumni from CEE and elsewhere at MIT in adding this important component to the Course 1 curriculum and vision. Marelli teaches undergraduate fluid mechanics and a freshmen seminar on “big engineering.”

Masic, whose work includes the analysis of infrastructure materials including ancient concrete, will assume the Institute-wide Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Career Development Professorship. Masic’s expertise is quantifying, measuring, and analyzing natural and human-made materials for innovation. He teaches undergraduate material characterization, and will be in Italy with a student group when the professorship becomes effective this summer, helping lead onsite research of ancient Roman structures and materials.

“As CEE undergoes renewal, hiring excellent faculty is a critical step. We are excited about the new skills, vision and ideas that Benedetto and Admir bring to us, and look forward to supporting their careers,” said Buehler. 

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