Nina Stark receives NSF CAREER award

Nina Stark, assistant professor in the Charles E. Via Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has been awarded a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award to study soil mechanics in response to hydrodynamic forcing and morphodynamics.

“With this funding, I will work to improve methods for the prediction, assessment, and mitigation of coastal erosion and stability of coastal infrastructure, specifically with relation to climate change, human impacts, and extreme events,” Stark said.

Stark will measure and assess strength and pore pressure in response to nearshore and coastal sediments under forcing, while also educating students in a multidisciplinary manner in coastal processes and soil mechanics through the integration of an undergraduate field research program. She hopes the work will raise awareness and educate the public about sea level rise and climate change related increase of inundation events.

“A large number of the population in the U.S. and the world lives in coastal regions,” Stark said. “It is important we understand coastal processes better to improve predictions and advance risk assessment and mitigation methods regarding coastal erosion and impacts of extreme events on infrastructure and communities.”

However, this type of research can be challenging because coastal erosion and response to extreme events can vary greatly with regard to changing sea levels and climate. Stark recognizes that much is still not understood about the field, which makes this subject area even more intriguing for her to pursue.

“There is still so much to do and so many open questions and even space for method development that it allows me to apply creativity and odd ideas, and it is always full of surprises and new data,” Stark said. “At the same time, I truly believe that research in this field can have a significant impact on society and the environment.”