River Research and Ecosystem-Friendly Engineering Garners 2010 Federal Engineer of the Year Award

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Contact Name: 
Stacey A. Ober
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Friday, February 19, 2010

Lisa M. Fotherby, Ph.D., P.E., a project leader and hydraulic engineer in the Sedimentation and River Hydraulics Group with the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation in Denver, has been named the National Society of Professional Engineers's 2010 Federal Engineer of the Year. Fotherby received the honor during the 31st Annual FEYA Banquet at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on February 18, 2010.

Of the 96,000 federally employed engineers identified by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics,  only 28 were nominated and only one of 10 finalists was selected for the award. It is a crowning achievement for the award winner and the federal agency or military branch the engineer represents. 

"Reclamation is honored by Lisa's selection as the Federal Engineer of the Year," says Lowell Pimley, P.E., the director of Reclamation's Technical Service Center. "She's a talented engineer who richly deserves this recognition as Reclamation's first recipient of this prestigious award.  We're very proud of her and grateful for her contributions to Reclamation, the engineering profession, her community, and the nation."

 Fotherby has notable achievements in the fields of river research and development, engineering design, leading collaborative interdisciplinary teams, and adaptive management that demonstrates the synthesis of complex environmental data for responsible engineering. As part of the Animas-La Plata Project in Colorado, she was involved in the construction of an ecosystem-friendly design that preserves preproject sediment delivery in a stream system, promotes expansion of riparian habitat and natural channel evolution, and protects a native fishery. At the Platte River Implementation Program in Nebraska, one of the largest management programs in the country facilitating recovery of endangered and threatened bird species, Fotherby's efforts and leadership led to a unified understanding of the complex problem among various agency and stakeholder groups. Solutions resulted in increased streamflow and sediment supply, and the removal of river islands that impair sight distance for endangered birds.

In addition to this work, she has aided the development and pioneered the application of numerical models that link and track the process interactions of streamflow, sediment transport, vegetation growth and mortality, and river management actions to understand and predict river system response. The application of these models has been used to guide informed decisions on river management and the protection of river ecosystems.

As a result of her exemplary service and contributions to her profession, Fotherby has received many prestigious awards, including the Department of the Interior Recognition Award in 2003 and 2006 for her work on the Platte River, and numerous Reclamation STAR Awards from 2002 to 2009. She received the Environmental Award from the National Association of County Parks and the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Industrial Fabrics Association International for her work at the Little Miami River at Lake Isabela, Ohio. She has authored or coauthored over 20 published articles and presented numerous seminars, in addition to continuously attending various courses and conferences aimed at continuing education in her field.
Fotherby has also excelled academically, achieving her bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Michigan Technological University, and both her master's and doctoral degrees in civil engineering from Colorado State University. She is a member of NSPE, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Environmental and Water Resources Institute, and the American Geophysical Union. She is also active in giving back to her community, volunteering as an assistant coach for the Bear Creek Soccer Association, a volunteer crossing guard and PTA volunteer at Rooney Ranch Elementary School, and as a volunteer ski instructor working with children. True to her profession, she also visits schools to give presentations on river engineering and science.
A panel of judges established by NSPE's Professional Engineers in Government selects the FEYA winner. Hailing from various federal agencies, departments, and military branches, the nominated engineers are evaluated based on factors such as engineering achievements, education, professional and technical society activities, awards and honors, and civic and humanitarian activities.  
For more information about the program or how to submit nominations for 2010, contact Erin Garcia-Reyes at ereyes@nspe.org or 703-684-2884.

Additional Notes: 

The National Society of Professional Engineers is the national society of licensed professional engineers from all disciplines that promotes the ethical and competent practice of engineering, advocates licensure, and enhances the image and well-being of its members. Founded in 1934, NSPE has been promoting professional excellence for over 75 years. NSPE serves more than 43,000 members and the public through 53 state and territorial societies and more than 500 chapters. For more information, please visit www.nspe.org.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Digital photos of the Fotherby, the ceremony, and additional award winners are currently available. Please contact Stacey Ober at 703-684-2815, sober@nspe.org, or at 301-254-6888 after business hours.