Mark A. Widdowson, Professor of Environmental and Water Resources Engineering, as well as Assistant Department Head in the Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is the 2016 recipient of the CEE Alumni Teaching Excellence Award. The CEE Alumni Board selects the recipient of this award based solely upon nominations received from CEE alumni who have graduated in the past five years.
Widdowson earned his B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Cincinnati, his M.S. in water resources engineering from the University of Kansas, and his Ph.D. in civil engineering from Auburn University. His research expertise includes mathematical modeling and experimental studies on the fate and transport of contaminants in soil, sediments and groundwater, including chlorinated solvents, chlorinated compounds, petroleum hydrocarbons, coal tar and creosote, inorganics, and metals.
He teaches courses such as Hazardous Waste Management, Fluid Mechanics, Groundwater Resources, Dynamics of Groundwater, and Numerical Modeling of Groundwater Flow and Transport.
“I took four classes with Dr. Widdowson including two classes in Punta Cana,” said Nicole Ambramson (‘13, ‘14). “He really cares about his students and is excited about the material he is teaching.”
Widdowson has invested a lot of time and energy into the Punta Cana class, making it a successful and popular study abroad option for CEE students. This five week program explores environmental and water resources courses, as well as transportation courses centered in airport planning. The focus is to gain hands-on management and critical thinking skills while abroad.
One main area of research that students have worked on while studying in the Dominican Republic is groundwater contamination. Much of the sewage is disposed of through pipes drilled directly into the ground, thus polluting the town’s sole source of fresh water. Mark has led efforts to test the well water and provide solutions in order to help eliminate the concern around health issues related to sewage-contaminated groundwater.
He has been honored with a number of awards throughout his teaching career, including Outstanding Civil Engineering Faculty at Virginia Tech, Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering Certificate of Teaching Excellence, and the Samuel Arnold Greeley Award by the ASCE Environmental and Water Resources Institute.