Amy Pruden, professor of civil and environmental engineering and associate dean and director of interdisciplinary graduate education in the Graduate School at Virginia Tech, is the 2014 recipient of the Paul L. Busch Award which includes a $100,000 research grant.
A well-recognized researcher in her field, Pruden is instrumental in developing a new way of thinking about controlling aquatic pathogens and expanding the use of recycled water. She has an international reputation in applied microbial ecology, environmental remediation, and environmental reservoirs of antimicrobial resistance.
Her accomplishments in these areas led to the 2014 Busch Award from the Water Environment Research Foundation’s Endowment for Innovation in Applied Water Quality Research. The foundation cited her outstanding efforts that have contributed significantly to water quality research and its practical application in the environment. The grant with the award is given to support work that will bring new benefits to the water quality community and the water-using public they serve.
Amy is a core faculty member in two interdisciplinary graduate education programs, Water for Health and Interfaces of Global Change. Here is what she had to say about the award:
“Last week I was honored to receive the Paul L. Busch award at the Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference in New Orleans. There are so many folks to thank, not the least of which my kind and thoughtful nominators, Joan Rose and Pedro Alvarez, and the Water Environment Research Foundation. Thanks also goes to my PhD advisor, Makram Suidan, the so many folks that have patiently mentored, supported, and encouraged me since my graduate school days, and now my own students who give their 100% every day- you are the future! As the photo implies, I also very much have my family to thank- they have sacrificed much to support their “science mom” – and I sincerely hope that one day my children will look back and think it was all worth it to have a mom that got so excited about “good” bacteria and “bad” bacteria.
But where I really got choked up at the award ceremony was to learn about who Paul L. Busch was and what he stood for. Paul Busch was the President and CEO of the environmental consulting firm, Malcolm Pirnie, which is now ARCADIS. He was also a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the President of the American Academy of Engineers, and a member of the U.S. EPA’s National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology. He played an essential and personal role in developing the clean drinking water infrastructure in several major cities across the U.S. and around the world. These are just a few examples. But transcending this all, it is clear that he was a person with vision, a vision that drew strongly from an interdisciplinary perspective. In his undergraduate days at MIT, Paul Busch essentially double majored in Civil Engineering and Philosophy- not a combination you see every day! His colleagues at Malcolm Pirnie noted that he marveled at rapid advances taking place in the medical realm and encouraged others around him to similarly reach out to other disciplines in order to advance the science and practice of water engineering. It is also clear that Paul Busch was not alone, he believed in mentoring young leaders and was the true essence of a team player, an essential asset of an interdisciplinary professional.
I am very grateful to now be at Virginia Tech, where we strongly embrace interdisciplinary education and research through the IGEP programs, ICTAS, and numerous other grass roots efforts across the university. I am aware of the challenges of interdisciplinary graduate education, but also the tremendous rewards. And thus I marvel that Paul Busch was already doing this 15 to 50 years ago, apparently because that was his nature and that is what worked. I am extremely honored and humbled to receive this award and I hope that I can achieve even a fraction of the positive impact to the world that Paul Busch was able to in his lifetime.”
Pipes photo by: Rama (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons