Patricia Culligan, Urban Sustainability Leader, Receives Great Teacher Award

May 27 2015 | By Jesse Adams | Photo: Jeffrey Schifman

The Society of Columbia Graduates (SOCG) has recognized Patricia J. Culligan, professor of civil engineering and mechanics engineering, as one of two recipients of the Great Teacher Award, an honor bestowed annually upon professors who excel in undergraduate teaching at Columbia College and Columbia Engineering.


Professor Culligan.

The College recipient is Brent Stockwell, a professor of biological sciences and chemistry. Both professors are to be honored at an awards ceremony at the SOCG’s 106th annual meeting May 30 at the Low Rotunda.

A leader in the field of water resources and urban sustainability, Culligan is associate director of the Data Science Institute and co-director of the Urban Design Lab at Columbia’s Earth Institute. With an interdisciplinary approach that embraces New York City as a case study for the modern-day challenges of urbanization, she addresses challenges including green infrastructure and the use of social media and novel sensing technologies to improve urban water, energy, and environmental management.

Culligan also is the director of a joint interdisciplinary PhD program between the Engineering School and the Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation that focuses on designing and rendering smart cities. She was principal investigator for the Columbia Green Roof Consortium, which evaluated the effectiveness of a wide range of green roof technologies for city buildings to add vegetation and manage the hydrologic cycle, reducing polluted runoff to nearby rivers and streams.

Culligan has received numerous awards for her work in engineering research and education, including the NSF CAREER Award and Columbia’s Presidential Teaching Award. She received her MPhil and PhD from the University of Cambridge, and was on the faculty at MIT before joining Columbia Engineering in 2003.

The SOCG established the Great Teacher Award in 1949 to honor outstanding teachers from Columbia College and Columbia Engineering. Culligan joins an impressive list of past recipients including the late historian Jacques Barzun, former University Provost Alan Brinkley and, in recent years, fellow Columbia Engineering Professors James Hone, Kathleen McKeown, George Deodatis, and Shih-Fu Chang.