Nina Stark, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering, has been selected by the Office of Naval Research for its 2018 Young Investigator Program.

Stark was selected for the program to further her research into geotechnical soil characterizations from remote sensing for the assessment of coastline strength, stability, and trafficability.

In 2017, she was called to Texas and Florida to lead Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance (GEER) Association teams following the hurricanes to collect data on the damage.

The teams conducted a detailed reconnaissance of sediment erosion and deposition in each location. They found that there was significant erosion and changes in coastal and riverline morphology from the wave action and storm surge, which could potentially lead to destruction of infrastructure in the area.

Stark was also awarded a National Science Foundation RAPID grant to investigate the questions of scour and infilling of scour holes during and after Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

The Young Investigator Program is one of the most selective scientific research advancement programs in the country and is focused on funding early-career academic researchers whose scientific pursuits show outstanding promise for supporting the Department of Defense while also supporting the reseacher’s professional development.

This year, the young investigators were chosen out of 340 applicants based on past performance, technical merit, potential for scientific breakthrough and long-term university commitment. The group of 31 scientists will receive $16 million through the three-year program. The awards support laboratory equipment, graduate student stipends and scholarships, and other expenses critical to ongoing and planned investigational studies.

Stark joined Virginia Tech in 2013 following her postdoctoral position with the Department of Oceanography at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Stark documents her projects and worldwide travels on her Coastal and Marine Geotechnics at Virginia Tech blog

Written by Courtney Sakry