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2024 Annual Meeting
May 29-31, 2024 - Blacksburg, VA

Keynote Speaker

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Candice Piercy, Ph.D., P.E. 

Research Environmental Engineer for the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center

Engineering With Nature and the American Ecological Engineering Society: shared values to address complex engineering needs

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Engineering With Nature (EWN) program promotes sustainable engineering design and management to efficiently deliver economic, environmental, and social benefits. Beginning in 2010, the EWN initiative has morphed from a philosophy guiding USACE projects to a research program dedicated to advancing the science and practice around delivering multi-purpose infrastructure projects. EWN is founded on the philosophy of “Working With Nature” emerging from the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure (commonly known as PIANC) in 2008. Both EWN and Working With Nature share many of the same philosophies and principles as the ecological engineering discipline and the American Ecological Engineering Society (AEES). While the EWN program is part of the USACE, its principles are being shared broadly across Federal agencies and into academia, industry, non-governmental organizations, and local governments through the Network for Engineering With Nature. As nature-based solutions gain prominence, the principles that guide EWN and ecological engineering are shifting from niche concepts to essential tenets of infrastructure design. EWN and AEES are well-positioned to lead this shift in engineering practice and design for a nonstationary future. This presentation will trace the philosophical and organizational histories of EWN and AEES and will contemplate how the organizations can come together to tackle today’s pressing and complex engineering needs.

Dr. Candice Piercy (BS, PhD, Virginia Tech; PE, Commonwealth of Virginia) is a research environmental engineer with nearly 14 years of experience and leads the Integrated Ecological Modeling team at US Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, MS. Her research focus is on the simulation of feedbacks between ecological and physical processes, primarily driven by vegetation, in a variety of ecosystems including salt marshes, dunes, estuaries, and river floodplains. She also conducts research related to the evolution and analysis of nature-based solutions for flood risk management and beneficial use of dredged sediment. Additionally, she helps develop ecologically-informed engineering guidance for coastal ecosystems and nature-based solutions.

Invited Speaker - DEIJ Session

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Susan Sajadi, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech

Dr. Susan Sajadi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, where she focuses her research on inclusion, diversity, and equity within educational settings and the engineering workforce. She holds degrees in Biomedical Engineering (BSE and MS) and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education Systems and Design from Arizona State University. Her diverse professional journey includes roles as a biomedical engineer at companies such as WL Gore and involvement in humanitarian engineering through ASU’s Engineering Projects in Community Service program. Additionally, she has served as a Senior Program Coordinator for corporate social responsibility initiatives focused on equity and inclusion in STEM, where she developed curriculum, trained teachers, and helped establish innovation labs in schools across the nation.

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