Civil engineering's Li wins Commission for Women Achieving Women Award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Li Li, associate professor of environmental engineering at Penn State, has recently been named the recipient of the Penn State Commission for Women 2017 Achieving Women Award in the faculty category.

The awards ceremony was held April 7 at The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center at University Park.

The award recognizes seven Penn State women who have shown notable leadership and accomplishment in their fields and have gone above and beyond their employment duties and responsibilities to support the University's diversity efforts, help promote equal opportunities, or contribute to human causes and public service activities.

Categories include faculty, staff exempt, staff non-exempt, administrator, technical service, undergraduate student and graduate student (including postdoctoral fellows and scholars). One award is given to a woman in each of the seven categories.

“I am very excited about this award,” Li said. “I feel very much honored and humbled at the same time. I consider myself lucky that I was born at a time when science values diversity and women. This is very recent, if we look at the history of science.”

Li currently works with a large number of faculty at Penn State across four colleges and has numerous collaborations in other universities. Li has organized various conference sessions and workshops to promote communication and breaking barriers across disciplines.

In her seven and a half years at Penn State, Li has graduated 16 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, seven of whom are women and minorities. She has also hosted two groups of high school students in a Summer Research Experience program that targeted economically disadvantaged groups from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

“I find the growth of my students very rewarding,” Li said. “I open my lab to students with diverse backgrounds and at all levels, including kindergarteners, girl scouts, high school students, undergraduates and graduate students.”

Li received her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in environmental chemistry from Nanjing University in China and her doctorate in environmental engineering and water resources from Princeton University. After graduation, she became a postdoctoral researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory before joining Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences as an assistant professor in energy and mineral engineering. She then moved to the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in August 2016.

Li’s research focuses on reactive transport, biogeochemistry, water quality and quantity modeling, environmental bioremediation, and geological carbon sequestration.

“This award is important because it not only recognizes work from my group, but it also recognizes those who have helped me in getting here — my Ph.D. advisers, my friends, my mentors, my family, all of whom have held my hand along the way,” said Li. “And all those who have paved the way for woman professors in academia. It is a celebration of women in academia.”

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Last Updated April 07, 2017