students in regalia at commencement

Graduation with Departmental Distinction

Conduct supervised research as an undergraduate

Students interested in the Graduation with Department Distinction honor are encouraged to approach faculty members to discuss independent study opportunities.

For ideas, review the department's faculty research interests as many independent study projects come from faculty's already funded research and interests.


To be eligible for graduation with departmental distinction, a candidate needs to have a 3.500 or higher GPA and complete at least one (1) unit of research independent study, supervised by at least one of the CEE faculty, culminating in a written report. In addition, students must present their research projects orally to an audience of faculty and students.

Qualifying research independent study courses: CEE 393, CEE 394, CEE 493, and CEE 494.


The Awards and Honors Committee, through its Graduation with Departmental Distinction coordinator, will send each student enrolled in the Graduation with Departmental Distinction Program a letter at the beginning of the Fall term to include:

  • A copy of the GwDD Protocol
  • The advisability of conducting the research in two terms, with a minimum ½ course load per term,
  • The standards for the presentations and the written works, and the importance of the initial course description prepared by the student and the course instructor (submitted to the Director of Undergraduate Studies).

Students enrolled in the GwDD program should provide a one-page progress report in early March to the GwDD Coordinator with a note from their Advisor that the project is advanced enough to yield a work deserving of Distinction.

The Committee meets immediately after the oral presentations and assesses each of the written reports and oral presentations. The Committee reports to the Director of Undergraduate Students the names of the students eligible for Graduation with Departmental Distinction based on the Committee's judgment of their written and orally presented work.


The GwDD coordinator must receive the following materials two days prior to the oral presentation, by 5 pm ET—with presentation generally on a Friday this would mean that the materials noted below would be due by 5 pm ET of the previous Wednesday. If a student desires the Committee to preview their paper and receive comments in return then the paper should be submitted to the GwDD coordinator at least one week in advance of the oral presentation.

  • An electronic copy of the final written-work (in either .docx or .pdf format),
  • Digital photo(s) of the student working in the lab, at a field site, working at the computer, etc. which is/are suitable to publishing to a website (optional)

The written report needs to be prepared according to the Protocol and following ASCE journal publication requirements. In general, the written work may not be less than 8 nor more than 12 pages of single-spaced 10- or 12-pitch typed text including nomenclatures, figures, tables, appendices, and references, and it should be prepared as a photograph-ready manuscript for conference proceedings. However, in experimental, architectural, and other similar works the length and format may be as defined by the course instructor.

Each report is evaluated by the Committee on the basis of correctness, neatness, conciseness, clarity, rigor, and depth.


Each student will have 15 minutes for their presentation followed by five minutes of questions. The speakers are expected to prepare their slides according to professional standards. The length of the presentation should be strictly observed.

The Committee evaluates the presentation on the basis of clarity, conciseness, and effectiveness.

Historically, oral presentations are scheduled on the last Friday of the Spring term. The presentations are advertised to the department and typically ordered alphabetically by the family names.

Eric I. Pas Award

The Committee also identifies the name of the student deemed to have demonstrated the highest excellence in independent study as demonstrated by the professionalism of their written or orally presented work. This student is awarded the Eric I. Pas Award.

Past Recipients


  • Himani Bhat
  • Matthew Edward Brune
  • Alexandra Rivera
  • Arthur Tsang


  • Qingqi Katherine Li
  • Jenny Z Liang
  • Zehua Wang


  • Alyvia Grace Schaad
  • Caroline Lenehan Heitmann
  • Renata Rae Starostka


  • Camden Ford
  • Tiffany Wei
  • Winston Lindqwister


  • Monika Dharia
  • Remy Minkler Freire
  • Elizabeth Rose Griffin
  • Emma Joy Jin Palmer
  • Hailey Brooke Prevett
  • Marina Carolyn Smalling


  • Michelle Anne Moffa
  • Karyn Elizabeth Saunders
  • Delaney Colleen Thompson


  • Jack King
    Optimizing the Leaching Step in Rare Earth Elements Recovery from Coal Combustion Residues
    Advisor: H. Hsu-Kim
  • Eunice Leung
    Improving Consolidation of Concrete with Large Aggregates in Columns Integrated with Masonry Wall for Structures in Developing Countries
    Advisor: J. Nadeau


  • Mona Dai
    Optimization of Ceramic Water Filters for Potable Water Purification in Rural Communities
    Advisor: D. Schaad
  • Stephanie Laughton
    Enhanced Biogas Production from Nanoscale Zero Valent Iron-Amended Anaerobic Bioreactors
    Advisor: M. Wiesner
  • Mahkayla McKenzie
    Pore-Scale Pollutant Transport
    Advisor: Z. Kabala
  • Clay Sanders
    Inverse Problem Optimization of One-Dimensional Viscoelastic Materials for Wave Absorption Properties
    Advisor: W. Aquino


  • Natalie Cybriwsky
    Evaluating the Benefits of Green Roofs for Stormwater Management in Durham, NC
    Advisor: D. Schaad
  • Robert Plybon
    Biogas Sweetening in Biotrickling Filters: Investigation of Unclogging Mechanisms and Oxygenation via Hydrogen Peroxide
    Advisor: M. Deshusses


  • Grace Cambareri
    Blue Devil's Basin: An Integrated Constructed Wetland Model to Enhance Water Quality and Campus Stormwater Knowledge
    Advisors: D. Schaad, S. Schauman
  • Hunter Douglas
    Effects of Rain Event Characteristics on Roof Runoff Quality
    Advisor: J. Nadeau
  • Christine Larson
    Design of Open Channel System for Stormwater Control in Tola, Nicaragua
    Advisor: D. Schaad
  • Kathryn Lathan
    The Use of Algae to Treat Greywater and as a Feedstock for Biofuels
    Advisor: C. Gunsch
  • Kala Viswanathan
    Optimization of the Waste to Energy System at the Loyd Ray Farms in Yadkinville, North Carolina
    Advisor: D. Schaad


  • Amy Allen
    Dynamics and Control of Deepwater Offshore Wind Turbines
    Advisor: H. Gavin
  • Maria Gibbs
    Vibration Mitigation in Structural Cables with Broad Band Energy Harvesting Potential
    Advisor: B. Mann
  • William Mackebee
    Speciation and Release of Selenium in Coal Ash from the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant
    Advisor: H. Hsu-Kim
  • Tyler Rohr
    Modeling Biomass Production and Carbon Cycling in Seasonally Dry Ecosystems
    Advisor: A. Porporato
  • Aaron Schroeder
    Simulation of Friction Effects on Base-Isolated Structures
    Advisor: H. Gavin
  • Lauren Shwisberg
    Laboratory Study of Circulation and Residence Time in Coral Colonies
    Advisor: J. Hench
  • Billy Wang
    Economization of Gravity Load Resisting System for Buildings
    Advisor: J. Nadeau
  • Craig Wasilewsky
    Engineering Design and Analysis of Tensegrity Structures
    Advisor: J. Scruggs


  • Andrew Harris
    Bridge Design Optimization Tool for Bridges to Prosperity
    Advisor: J. Nadeau
  • Matthew Wander
    Formulation, Structure, and Analysis of a Model to Optimize Staffing Levels at Border Checkpoints
    Advisor: J. Peirce


  • Margaret Hoff
    Chemical Cocktail and Density Driven Distribution: An Examination of the Groundwater Impacts and Remedial Effectiveness at the NCSU NPL Site
    Advisor: D. Schaad
  • Jordan Woodson
    Object Oriented Modeling for Urban Planning
    Advisor: A. Barros


  • Samantha Beardsley
    Water Conveyance and Treatment System Design for Medical Clinic in Las Mercedes, Honduras
    Advisors: D. Schaad, M. Fleming
  • Alexander Brhem
    Geoengineering Climate Change
    Advisor: Z. Kabala
  • Scott Harvey
    Mixed-Type Boundary Value Problems for Aquifer Characterization
    Advisor: Z. Kabala
  • Aaron Lee
    Photoheterotrophic and Mixotrophic Growth Characterization of Microalgae for Biodiesel Production
    Advisor: C. Gunsch
  • Chloe Mawer
    Transient Pumping Schemes for Efficient Remediation of Contaminated Porous Media
    Advisor: Z. Kabala
  • Nicholas Millar
    A Sensitivity Analysis of GEOTOP in Modeling the Effects of Climate Change on Dripsey, an Irish Watershed
    Advisor: J. Albertson
  • Lindsay Rawot
    Preparing for WATERS: Engaging Middle School Science Students in Environmental Engineering
    Advisor: J. Peirce
  • Jessica Toy
    Water Transfer Optimization in the North Carolina Research Triangle
    Advisor: J. Peirce
  • Lauren Wessel
    Comparative Toxicity of C60 Aggregates
    Advisor: M. Wiesner


  • Ian Cassidy
    Implementation of Controllable Electromagnetic Friction Damping in an Equipment Isolation System
    Advisor: H. Gavin
  • Elizabeth Crabtree
    Investigating Flaw Evolution in Stimulus Responsive Hydrogels
    Advisors: J. Dolbow, D. Stepp
  • Steven Lattanzio
    WEAVE: Web-Based Educational Framework for Analysis, Visualization, and Experimentation
    Advisor: H. Gavin
  • Lee Pearson
    Towards a Life Cycle Assessment of Algal Biodiesel as a US Transportation Fuel Stock
    Advisor: C. Gunsch
  • Cleland Robertson
    Magnetorheological Squeeze-Film Damper Design and Testing
    Advisor: H. Gavin


  • Nicole Axelrod
    Performance Limits of Passively-Damped Ball-in-Cone Isolation Systems
    Advisor: H. Gavin
  • Bibek Joshi
    Solar Water Disinfection Using Lead Extracts and Lemon Juice
    Advisor: K. Linden


  • Jean Foster
    Investigation of Plasmids in Biological Wastewater Treatment
    Advisor: A. Schuler
  • Sara Oliver
    Experimental and Theoretical Analysis of Microslip
    Advisor: T. Laursen
  • Serdar Selamet
    Design of Intrinsic Mechanisms in Structures Absorbing a Thermal Shock to Deal with Structural Implications of the September 11 Collapse of WTC Towers
    Advisor: T. Hueckel
  • Robert Tipton
    Biomass Allocation in Crown Structures of Southern Pine Species
    Advisor: J. Nadeau
  • Siu Chung Yau
    Higher Order Limit State Functions in the Response Surface Method of Structural Reliability Analysis
    Advisor: H. Gavin


  • Deirdre McShane
    Pre-buckled Struts as a Vibration Isolator
    Advisor: L. Virgin
  • Justin M. Shapiro
    Nitric Oxide Emissions as an Indicator of Hydrocarbon Contamination in Soils
    Advisor: J. Peirce
  • Daniel Stepner
    Wetlands Hydrologic and Water Quality Modeling
    Advisor: M. Medina
  • Victor K. Victorsson
    Structural Reliability Analysis
    Advisor: H. Gavin


  • Noor N. Atari
    WEAVE: Web-based Educational Framework for Analysis, Visualization, and Experimentation
    Advisor: H. Gavin
  • Jennifer M. Axtell
    Cable Vibrations in Cable-Stayed Bridges
    Advisor: H. Petroski
  • Lauren D. Kickham
    Dynamics of a Bouncing Ball
    Advisor: L. Virgin
  • Trevor B. Yates
    Detecting Landmines of Different Materials in Varying Soil Types using Non-Invasive Geophysical Electrical Methods
    Advisor: F. Boadu


  • Alissa J. Jones
    An Optimization and Comparison of Internally- and Externally-Valved Magnetorheological Dampers
    Advisor: H. Gavin
  • Deborah A. Seibold
    UV Degradation of Atrazine
    Advisor: K. Linden


  • Kimberly A. Novick
    Assessing the Effects of Elevated Atmospheric CO2 and LAI Perturbations on Southeastern Grassland Water Vapor and CO2 Fluxes
    Advisor: G. Katul
  • Jesse B. Hoagg
    Semiactive Vibration Control Using a Magnetorheological Damper
    Advisor: H. Gavin


  • Mark E. Dobossy
    Design Optimization of MR Damper
    Advisor: H. Gavin


  • Alissa Kendall
    Analysis of the Spectral Response of Contaminated Soils with Varied Engineering Soil Properties
    Advisor: F. Boadu
  • Lauren K. MacWilliams
    Evolution and Evaluation of the Coliform Drinking Water Standard
    Advisor: R. Rumer
  • Adam G. Steward
    Analysis of the Frequency-Dependent Spectral Electrical Response of Contaminated Soils
    Advisor: F. Boadu