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Honors and Awards

Alessandro F. Rotta Loria Announced as Recipient of 2022 Curriculum Innovation Award

Northwestern faculty develop programs to address representation and sustainability

Northwestern Engineering’s Alessandro F. Rotta Loria and the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences’ Heather Pinkett have been named the 2022 recipients of The Alumnae of Northwestern University’s Award for Curriculum Innovation

Alessandro Rotta Loria

The award seeks to support faculty members offering undergraduates innovations that enhance their curriculum through new courses, methods of instruction, and new components to existing classes.

The recognition comes with $12,500 in award funding to be split between innovation development ($7,000), stipend ($5,000) and the faculty member’s home department ($500). 

Rotta Loria will create massive real-world datasets that allow students to realize virtual geothermal energy projects with potential to impact the city, and Pinkett will use the award to work with students to develop a national resource to increase curriculum inclusivity and address representation in STEM.

Using data and sustainable engineering to innovate cities

Rotta Loria is an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering. Rotta Loria will deploy a wireless temperature sensing network in underground environments across the Chicago Loop district that will become a living laboratory for his class “Energy Geostructures and Geosystems.” 

This network will provide a large set of real-world data that students in the EGG course will use to design innovative projects that can harvest renewable geothermal energy and waste thermal energy through the subsurface to meet buildings’ heating, cooling, and hot water needs. These projects will be developed virtually but could be realizable immediately, with significant implications for the decarbonization of cities and the building sector at large. In support of this undertaking, Rotta Loria will provide students with cross-disciplinary competence in mechanics, energy and data science.

Rotta Loria’s research is at the intersection of geomechanics, energy and environmental sustainability. His goal is to understand the properties and behavior of soils, rocks, concrete, and system thereof in the context of geological energy production and storage.

Pinkett, the Irving M. Klotz Research Professor and associate professor of molecular biosciences at Weinberg, will create modules with students that highlight the professional stories of scientists with diverse backgrounds, particularly emphasizing scientists currently working in the field.

The Alumnae of Northwestern University

The Alumnae of Northwestern University is an all-women, all-volunteer organization that raises funds to benefit the University across a broad range of projects. The Alumnae also seeks to share the University's academic resources with the community through its Continuing Education program.

Since it was founded in 1916, The Alumnae has given more than $9.5 million to the University in the form of grants, fellowships, scholarships, and an endowed professorship. It also has provided funds for special University projects and summer internships.