School of Civil and Environmental Engineering Names New Chair

Georgia Tech has chosen Joseph B. Hughes, professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University in Houston, as the new chair of Georgia Tech's School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Hughes will begin as chair in August, pending approval from the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. He succeeds Roberto Leon, who has served as interim chair since last summer.

"Dr. Hughes is a dynamic educator and leader," said Don Giddens, dean of the College of Engineering. "His experience in administration, combined with his outstanding academic achievements, will be a great asset to the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering here at Georgia Tech."

"We are delighted he will be a member of the Georgia Tech team," Giddens said. "I'd also like to take this opportunity to personally thank Roberto Leon, for his exceptional leadership during this interim period."

Hughes' appointment concludes a national search begun last year to fill the position, which is responsible for overseeing the school's academic and research programs in areas such as structural survivability following an earthquake to developing new transportation systems. The school has 50 faculty members and offers academic degree programs at all levels to more than 800 students, making it one of the largest programs of its kind in the country.

Hughes has been at Rice since 1992, serving as an assistant professor, associate professor and chair of the university's Department of Environmental Science and Engineering. He then was co-director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Hazardous Substances Research Center South and Southwest, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Engineering and then chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

As chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice since 2001, Hughes oversaw a program with 13 faculty, 40 undergraduates and 50 graduates. He also supervised more than $6 million in programs and government contracts through the Hazardous Substances Research Center, Department of Defense, EPA, National Science Foundation and other agencies.

"I am extremely surprised and excited about the offer to join the faculty of Georgia Tech," Hughes said. "The dynamic nature of the campus, the desire to achieve excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, and the strength of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering were all factors in my decision. I truly believe that the school can achieve even greater levels of national and international distinction in the years ahead—and also we can increase the opportunities for students at all levels. I can't wait to get started!"

Hughes has a number of publications and written works to his credit. His research has centered on the area of environmental biotechnology; in particular understanding how novel biochemical metabolic processes can be harnessed through engineering to improve the quality of our environment.

Hughes received both the Charles Duncan Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement and the American Society of Civil Engineers Outstanding Professor Award at Rice University in 2002—an award he also received in 1997.