George Underwood, a retired senior laboratory specialist in the Occoquan Watershed Monitoring Lab, which is part of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has received the university’s 2018 Staff Career Achievement Award.

Underwood retired from the university in 2017 after 38 years of service.

Created in 2011 to recognize retiring staff members, the Staff Career Achievement Award is presented annually to individuals who retired the previous year and who distinguished themselves through exemplary performance and service during their university career. Nominees must have worked a minimum of 10 years at Virginia Tech. Each recipient is awarded a $1,000 cash prize.

Underwood spent his entire career at the Occoquan laboratory, Virginia Tech’s first continuous research laboratory presence in the National Capital Region. He is among a very small number of Virginia Tech classified staff who spent their entire career in the NCR.

Underwood joined Virginia Tech in 1979 just as the first national effort began to characterize and develop control technologies to address the water quality impacts of urban stormwater runoff in the United States. Virginia Tech received one of a limited number of grants from the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct the Nationwide Urban Runoff Program (NURP) study in the NCR. Underwood was instrumental to the project’s success, which required developing and operating unattended automated systems to monitor urban catchments across an area of more than 4,000 square miles.

Nearly four decades later, Underwood contributed to dozens of projects addressing topics such as understanding watershed processes, management of lakes and reservoirs used for drinking water supply, the focused national effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, and the recovery and reuse of domestic wastewater to supplement public water supply.

“In his characteristically unassuming way, George has clearly crafted a career that embodies the university motto, Ut Prosim. His work has been of great service to the university’s expanding research mission, and has also been a key part of focused efforts in the National Capital Region. His career efforts have supported research outcomes that have been of service to the commonwealth and the nation,” wrote Julia Ross, dean of the College of Engineering, in a nomination letter.