My name is Sara and I am a Doctoral Candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan.
I am a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Michigan in the Department of Civil and Envirionmental Engineering. I work with Professor Nikolaos Katopodes in the area of environmental fluid mechanics and control. My dissertation project is on the real-time detection and mitigation of hazardous contaminants in public spaces characterized by a long conduit containing an ambient fluid with a predominant flow direction. To study this problem, I have utilized a combination of numerical and experimental techniques. Additionally, I have developed an agent-based model of humans evacuating said public spaces in such emergency situations with dynamic environments.
Since 2011, I have spent numerous summers in Liberia, West Africa mentoring and teaching undergraduate Liberians studying engineering. Most recently my work in Liberia has centered around mentoring and supporting Liberian undergraduate women in engineering as they develop their own Society of Women Engineers student chapter, the first SWE student affiliate organization on the continent of Africa. This collaboration resulted in the development and implementation of a two-week Leadership Camp held in Kakata, Liberia for 30 Liberian undergraduate women studying engineering, along with 5 undergraduates and 5 graduate students from the University of Michigan. To accompany my teaching, I have carried out Engineering Education Research to better understand the experiences of Liberian women studying engineering through the theoretical lenses of self-efficacy, psychological sense of community, and expectancy-value. To carry out this research, I draw from qualitative, participatory action, and feminist ethnographic research methods.
I have found the combination of my fluid mechanics research, along with my teaching and outreach to be both intellectually stimulating and personally rewarding. I look forward to beginning an academic career that continues to allow me to combine both of these interests. I am especially grateful for academic institutions and faculty mentors that have and continue to support me through this professional journey.
I received my B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics, with a minor in Spanish, from Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. I grew up in the small farming community of Constantine, Michigan in a family of K-12 educators. Since childhood, I have been fortunate to expand my horizons by travelling to, living in, and building relationships with people of many different countries and cultures, including Spain, China, Liberia, and India.