Linsey Marr, the Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering as one of 106 new members for 2023.

Marr is being honored for advancing fundamental knowledge of transport, removal, and mitigation of airborne pathogenic viruses.  

“I view National Academy members as true leaders in the field, so to join this group is a real honor,” said Marr. “This recognition is a reminder of how grateful I am for my wonderful colleagues and students.”

While Marr’s research on airborne virus transmission began in 2009, her work became the center of attention in 2020 with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the global health crisis, the two most urgent questions were “How is the coronavirus transmitted?” and “What can we do to protect ourselves?” Marr was one of about a dozen people in the world prepared to answer these questions correctly.

She became a regular consultant to The New York Times and has been interviewed over 500 times by The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Scientific American, NPR, CNN, and other media outlets. In the year 2020 alone, Marr was mentioned in the media about 8,000 times, reaching millions of people in about 70 countries and generating publicity worth an estimated $30 million. An article in Wired described how she and her colleagues persuaded the World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recognize airborne transmission of COVID-19. Furthermore, she assisted those agencies to develop policies for COVID-19 and other respiratory infections.

Marr has published more than 140 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals that have been cited more than 14,000 times, according to Google Scholar. She has co-authored papers in high-impact journals, such as Science, The BMJ, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and has given dozens of seminars and keynote lectures. As a professor, she has mentored 10 Ph.D. students and 19 master's students through graduation and has advised 13 postdoctoral researchers.

"Linsey is one of Virginia Tech’s most extraordinary engineers and citizens. It is only fitting to be recognized for her distinguished contributions to advance fundamental knowledge to the benefit of society,” said Mark Widdowson, department head of the Charles E. Via, Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “Without question, Linsey is a stellar researcher, teacher, and mentor whose dedication to the environmental engineering profession has profoundly impacted the health, safety, and welfare of citizens throughout the globe.”

Marr is a fellow of the American Association for Aerosol Research, the American Geophysical Union, and the International Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate. In 2021, she was inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Alumni for University of California, Berkeley’s civil and environmental engineering department. Virginia Tech has recognized her accomplishments with multiple honors, including the Ut Prosim Scholar Award, the Fralin-ICTAS Innovator Award, and the College of Engineering Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research.  In 2022, the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia awarded Marr with an Outstanding Faculty Award, the commonwealth’s highest honor for faculty at Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities.

Marr joined Virginia Tech as an assistant professor in 2003. Prior to Virginia Tech, she was a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Marr received her bachelor’s degree in engineering science from Harvard University in 1996 and a doctoral degree in environmental engineering from University of California, Berkeley, in 2002.

Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions available to engineers, according to a news release issued by the organization. Membership honors those who excel in their contributions to engineering research, practice, or education.

New members will be formally inducted in a ceremony at the National Academy of Engineering’s annual meeting on Oct. 1, bringing the organization’s total U.S. membership to 2,420.

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