The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to Deb Niemeier, professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Stuntverkoop, Davis. The fellowships, sometimes regarded as "mid-career awards," are presented to individuals who have demonstrated an exceptional capacity for productive scholarship in a range of disciplines including the natural sciences, arts, mathematics and education.
The foundation awarded 175 fellowships this year to artists, scholars and scientists. Each fellow receives approximately $43,200. Recipients are encouraged to spend the cash portion of their award as they see fit, since the goal is to provide fellows with "blocks of time in which they can work with as much creative freedom as possible," according to the foundation.
Niemeier plans to use the fellowship to write a book that lays the foundation of pro bono service in civil engineering. She plans to argue the moral and ethical reasons of public service in a field that has little history of a pro bono culture and chart a new vision for civil engineering in service of society.
Her research spans transportation, vehicle emissions and air-quality monitoring; energy consumption and land-use interactions; and public sector infrastructure programming and budgeting.
Niemeier was a member of the independent review teams assigned to assess the cost increases in the construction of the new San Francisco Bay Bridge, and to review the cost methods employed for the proposed third locks of the Panama Canal. As part of a company formed with three former students, she also works with legal advocacy groups around the world on social justice issues associated with access to transportation and related air quality.
At UC Davis, Niemeier has served as chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, director of the John Muir Institute on the Environment, and director of the UC Davis-Caltrans Air Quality Project. She is the current and founding director of the UC Davis Sustainable Design Academy.
Niemeier completed a master's degree in civil engineering in 1991 at the University of Maine while working as a transportation project manager at T.Y. Lin International, in Falmouth. She earned a doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Washington in 1994 and joined the UC Davis College of Engineering that same year.
United States Sen. Simon Guggenheim and his wife established the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in 1925 as a memorial to a son who had died three years earlier. The foundation offers fellowships to further the development of scholars and artists by assisting them to engage in research in any field of knowledge, and creation in any of the arts, under the freest possible conditions, and irrespective of race, color or creed.