Barbara Minsker

Barbara Minsker, a nationally recognized expert in environmental and water resource systems analysis and informatics, joins SMU this fall as chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Bobby B. Lyle Professor of Leadership and Global Entrepreneurship, and Senior Fellow in the Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity.

Minsker’s research uses information technology and ‘big data’ to improve sustainability and resilience of complex environmental and human systems. Two of her ongoing projects, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), explore how social media data and online stakeholder input can support the design of urban green spaces ‒ like rain gardens ‒ to capture and treat stormwater while significantly improving community health and well-being.

“Dr. Minsker’s interests and strategic direction align perfectly with the Lyle School,” said Dean Marc P. Christensen. “She is actively engaged in leadership development, conducts impactful research with direct applications to our city, and is excited about taking on an expanded role in the Hunter and Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity. We are thrilled to have an expert of her caliber join our leadership team.”

Minsker previously served as professor and Arthur and Virginia Nauman Faculty Scholar in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), where she began her career as an assistant professor in 1996. She was also a faculty affiliate at UIUC’s National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Prior to her academic career, Dr. Minsker was an environmental policy analyst in the Washington, D.C., area.

“Having the opportunity to spend time with Dr. Minsker, I could not be more pleased to learn she had chosen to join the Lyle School of Engineering,” noted Bobby B. Lyle, for whom the school is named. “She has a ‘can do’ spirit that will resonate well with students and faculty on the campus, entrepreneurs within the Dallas community, and thought leaders around the globe. Her areas of expertise and personal interests will place her at the very crossroad of interdisciplinary work focused on sustainable solutions to some of the most complex environmental problems confronting our global community today. Dr. Minsker will be a ‘game changer.’”

Minsker has received numerous awards for her research, including the NSF CAREER Award, Army Young Investigator Award, Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and the American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize. Dr. Minsker has served as principal investigator (PI) on more than $11 million in research grants and co-PI on another $12 million in research throughout her academic career.

She received the ASCE Environmental and Water Resources Institute (ERWI) Outstanding Achievement Award and the ERWI Service to the Profession Award as a result of her extensive leadership background and experience. She has led major collaborative programs in research, education, and outreach in various roles including: PI of the WATERS Network, an NSF-funded project for advancing water resource science and management; Associate Provost Fellow who developed and implemented University of Illinois sustainability education and research initiatives; and founder of two start-up organizations.

Minsker received a B.S. in operations research and industrial engineering and a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering ‒ both from Cornell University.


About SMU
SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls approximately 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.

About the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering
SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering, founded in 1925, is one of the oldest engineering schools in the Southwest. The school offers eight undergraduate and 29 graduate programs, including master’s and doctoral degrees, through the departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Computer Science and Engineering; Electrical Engineering; Engineering Management, Information, and Systems; and Mechanical Engineering. Lyle students participate in programs in the unique Deason Innovation Gym, providing the tools and space to work on immersion design projects and competitions to accelerate leadership development and the framework for innovation; the Hart Center for Engineering Leadership, helping students develop nontechnical skills to prepare them for leadership in diverse technical fields; the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education, developing new methodologies for incorporating engineering education into K-12 schools; and the Hunter and Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity, combining technological innovation with business expertise to address global poverty.