CCEE Ph.D. student Morgan DiCarlo received an Outstanding Student Presentation Award in the Science and Society section for her presentation “Survey Exploring Water Utility Approaches to Smart Technologies and Customer Complaint Management” at the 2021 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Science and Society Fall Meeting, which took place Dec. 13-17, 2021. (Winners were notified on March 29, 2022.)
“Your presentation was one of the few student presentations to be recognized with the esteemed Outstanding Student Presentation Award,” said Julie Vano, president of the AGU Science and Society Section, in a letter to DiCarlo. “This award is to recognize both your excellence in scientific research and your presentation skills.”
DiCarlo said she was thrilled to receive the recognition. She explained that the biggest challenge she faced was adapting the presentation from an in-person format to a virtual format at the last minute, due to being unable to attend the conference because of a surge in COVID numbers.
“I was extremely excited that my presentation had still been well received despite the format change,” she said.
The idea for the presentation blossomed during the Spring 2021 semester while enrolled in CCEE’s Drs. Emily Berglund and Andy Grieshop’s course “Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Smart Sustainable Infrastructure.” As part of a course project, DiCarlo and a team of students conducted market research about how water utilities resolve customer complaints, and whether new technologies are needed to help them better communicate with customers.
“Following the course, I continued with the work and developed a national survey to collect data on customer complaint management practices and smart technology adoption,” DiCarlo said. “More than 500 water utilities responded!”
DiCarlo, who is advised by Berglund, graduated with a B.E. in civil engineering from Stony Brook University and an M.S. in biological systems engineering from Virginia Tech. Her research focuses on people’s decision-making during water-related hazards, such as flooding or pipe failures, including surveys, social media and smart water meter analytics.
DiCarlo was named one of America’s New Faces of Civil Engineering in 2014 and selected for Nature magazine’s Innovating Science longlist in 2018. DiCarlo is a TEDx speaker, former NASA intern, and a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, which supports her Ph.D. studies. She was selected by the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science as a 2020 Voice of the Future of Water and was also named a 2022 Voice for Science Policy by AGU.
“It has been an exciting year of being involved with AGU, both as an OSPA winner and also as a voices for science fellows, participating in monthly outreach activities including speaking for the North American Youth Parliament for Water, meeting with legislators & being a featured guest on the environmental podcast ‘Speaking for the Trees,’” DiCarlo said.