Skip to content

Naughton Honored as One of '40 Under 40' by Engineering Organization

December 6, 2023
Professor Colleen Naughton is pictured with students in the Summer Bridge program.
Winners for the 40 Under 40 Program are chosen by a panel of past recipients.

UC Merced civil and environmental engineering Professor Colleen Naughton has been included in the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists' (AAEES) 40 Under 40 Program.

According to the AAEES website, the program recognizes "talented individuals who have, either personally or as part of a team, been responsible for helping to advance the fields of environmental science or environmental engineering in a demonstrable way within the last 12 months."

Naughton's lab designs sustainable and culturally sensitive food-energy-water systems through life cycle assessment, geographic information systems, integration of anthropology and engineering, and effective science policy.

She is best known pioneering a dashboard to host tracking of COVID-19 through testing wastewater. She created the X, formerly known as Twitter, handle @CovidPoops19, where she and her team of researchers share the latest information on wastewater surveillance and public health.

Naughton also leads the Food-Energy-Water Systems for and with the Underserved, or FEWS-US, lab at UC Merced. She and her team of student researchers assess the life cycle sustainability of crops and agricultural technology in underserved communities by analyzing their environmental and social impacts. They then co-design more sustainable food, energy and water systems with the help of local experts.

Naughton joined UC Merced in 2019. She holds a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Purdue University, and master's and doctorate degrees from the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Winners for the 40 Under 40 Program are chosen by a panel of past recipients who weigh equally business successes and civic/philanthropic activities, according to the nonprofit AAEES. The organization provides board certification to qualified environmental engineers and scientists, and provides training through workshops and seminars, participates in accrediting universities, publishes a periodical and other reference material, interacts with students and young professionals, sponsors a university lecture series, and rewards outstanding achievements through its international awards program.

Naughton said she is honored by the selection.

"I remember being a student member of AAEES and I've always looked up to the professional membership," she said. "I'm still a bit in disbelief at being selected. I am extremely grateful to the mentorship provided to me by other AAEES members, particularly my graduate adviser, Dr. James R. Mihelcic. I'll continue to work hard to serve society through engineering and learn from the best in AAEES."

Marc Beutel, chair of the civil engineering department at UC Merced, said, "This is an amazing accomplishment to be recognized by AAEES for advancing the field of Environmental Engineering. Colleen's work related to wastewater monitoring for COVID and disseminating results in near-real time to public health managers and the public have really been innovative and impactful."

Naughton and the other 40 Under 40 awardees will be honored at an event on April 11, 2024.

Patty Guerra

Public Information Officer

Office: (209) 769-0948