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dasi henderson

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering PhD graduates Michelle Henderson (left) and Erica Dasi (right – photo credit: Mark Kings) were both participants in the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation University Center of Exemplary Mentoring (UCEM) and the NSF-funded STRONG Coasts research project.

Erica Dasi And Michelle Henderson Awarded ASEE Engineering Postdoctoral Fellowships

Erica Dasi and Michelle Henderson, two recent PhD graduates in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, have each been awarded eFellows Engineering Postdoctoral Fellowships from the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE). The eFellows program places early-career PhD graduates in engineering fields into university research postdoctoral fellowships and hosts professional development and mentoring activities. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, this prestigious program is administered by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). 

Dasi, who graduated with her PhD in August 2022, will investigate onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems (OSTDS) nitrate (NO3-) management. OSTDS are commonly used for domestic wastewater treatment in Florida, with an estimated 2.6 million systems in operation. However, their low NO3- removal performance contributes to nutrient pollution, which diminishes water quality and presents adverse effects to human health. This work will be conducted at the Northwest Regional Water Reclamation Facility, approximately 16 miles west of the University of South Florida’s (USF’s) main campus. Dasi’s postdoctoral research will be supervised by Jeffrey Cunningham, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environment Engineering, who will also serve as principal investigator for the project.  

Henderson, who graduated with her PhD in May 2022, will study practices to improve the civil and environmental engineering curriculum by providing undergraduate and graduate students with the training for the equitable development of critical infrastructures. Alongside community members, USF faculty and students will engage in solution-based research that addresses local and statewide issues. The proposed research will help transform engineering education by providing students with both classroom learning and real-world experiences to incorporate social justice in engineering and science spaces. Maya Trotz, professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, will serve as both postdoctoral mentor and principal investigator of the ASEE grant.

The eFellows program provides a salary of $75,000 per year to cover salary, fringe benefits and up to $3,000 for professional travel up to 2 years per fellow. To qualify, applicants must be 1) pursuing research in an area under the umbrella of the NSF Engineering Directorate: 2) be a US citizen or permanent resident; 3) select a tenured or tenured-track faculty at a US academic institution who is not the applicant’s PhD advisor; 4) and be a recent PhD graduate. Applicants must submit project-based research and technical proposals along with a research professional development and mentoring plan that are competitively reviewed.  

Previously, Dasi and Henderson were participants in the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation University Center of Exemplary Mentoring (UCEM) and the NSF-funded Systems Training for Research on Geography-based Coasts (STRONG Coasts) program. Throughout their doctoral studies, Dasi and Henderson were also supported by the Florida Education Fund’s McKnight Doctoral Fellowship program.

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