By Peter Murphy
Published July 31, 2020
“Ning is clearly on a path to future leadership positions,” says Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering chair and professor Joseph Atkinson, “she has been actively engaged in areas that impact not only her, but other faculty members in the Department.”
The Young Investigator Award is one of two categories of awards given to faculty members throughout the University. These awards recognize faculty members for their outstanding research performance at different stages of their careers. The Young Investigator Award, specifically, is presented to researchers whose work has garnered universal acclaim or been completed under the auspices of a prestigious fellowship grant. Environmental engineering faculty member Ning Dai is one of three faculty members in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at UB to earn the award.
“She has multiple NSF awards, including a highly competitive CAREER award. Citation counts for her work are higher than usual, indicating other researchers are paying attention to her work,” says Atkinson, who also nominated Dai for the award.
Dai joined UB as an assistant professor in 2014, and one of her research areas is water reuse. According to Dai, she hopes to continue working in the field. “The conventional perception is that water reuse is only for places without enough water, but that actually is not true,” Dai says, “we have an abundance of water resources in the Great Lakes region, but we need to preserve them. Implementing water reuse technologies and practices can protect the water resources that we have. This is definitely an area that I would continue to invest in.”
Since joining UB, Dai has also focused on quality in her research and in the training she provides to students. “I always tell my students, ‘a publication out there associated with your name is something you want people to read; and when they do so, you want them to think you’ve done solid work,” Dai says. “For every research project, my students and I would try to make sure that we understand everything to the best extent we can, and we definitely place an emphasis on the quality of the papers we put out.”
This award is significant, according to Atkinson. “The Young Investigator Award is recognition from Ning’s immediate peers, at least in UB,” he says, “it allows us to let Ning know we appreciate her.”