Major ASCE honor for Stony Brook engineering dean

Water way: Fotis Sotiropoulos, dean of SBU's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, has earned major recognition from the American Society of Civil Engineers.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

A Stony Brook University researcher working to put tide-powered electricity turbines in New York City’s East River has earned a prestigious award from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Fotis Sotiropoulos, who was named dean of SBU’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences in September 2015, has received the 2017 Hunter Rouse Hydraulic Engineering Award from the ASCE’s Environmental and Water Resource Institute. The annual award recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions to hydraulics and waterways.

The dean’s award specifically acknowledges his leadership in waterways research and honors him “for generating a quantum leap forward in the development and application of computational fluid dynamics for waterways,” according to SBU.

Sotiropoulos’ groundbreaking hydraulics research has “set the standard for how people will treat modeling of riverine flows for decades to come,” according to Brian Parsons, director of the EWRI.

“He dramatically raised the bar for what pioneering research in hydraulic engineering should look like,” Parsons said Monday. “His insights can help solve real-world problems.”

Sotiropoulos concentrates on simulation-based engineering science for fluid mechanics problems in renewable energy, river hydraulics and geophysical and biological applications. Over the last decade, the researcher has personally raised more than $34 million in grants from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Health, private industry and other state and federal sources.

He is currently leading a team of SBU faculty members and students researching offshore wind and tidal-energy resources. Working with New York City-based international clean-energy developer Verdant Power Inc., the team is aiming to create the first tidal-energy research project in NYC’s East River.

That includes plans to anchor turbines to the riverbed to harvest tidal energy and supply electricity to the Manhattan grid, a major step toward deploying commercial-scale turbines by 2020.

Such ambitious efforts “exemplify what it means to be a leader in academia,” according to SBU President Samuel Stanley Jr.

“His insight into hydraulics and its real-world impact on our environment and economy, combined with his role as dean and educator, will help train the next generation of innovative engineers investigating this crucial issue,” Stanley said in a statement.

The Hunter Rouse Hydraulic Engineering Award – established in 1979 and endowed by the Environmental and Water Research Institute through private contributions – is only the latest accolade in Sotiropoulos’ momentous career. In 2014, he was named a distinguished lecturer at the Mortimer and Raymond Sackler Institute of Advanced Studies at Tel Aviv University. He’s also served on the editorial boards of the ASCE’s Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, the International Journal of Heat and Fluid Flow and other international engineering publications.

All told, the fellow of the American Physical Society has authored over 170 peer-reviewed journal papers and book chapters.

The East Setauket resident is scheduled to be recognized as the Rouse Award winner at the at the Hydraulic Measurements & Experimental Methods Conference in New Hampshire, slated for  July 9-12.