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Water INTERface Faculty Member Professor Amy Pruden receives Water Environment Research Foundations’ Paul L. Busch Award

Amy Pruden receiving an award

The Paul l. Busch Award recognizes an outstanding individual whose ongoing efforts contribute significantly to water quality research and its practical application in the environment.

Here is how Professor Amy Pruden describes her achievement.

“The Paul L Bush Award- Thank You!

Last week I was honored to receive the Paul L. Busch award at the Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference in New Orleans.  There are so many folks to thank, not the least of which my kind and thoughtful nominators, Joan Rose and Pedro Alvarez, and the Water Environment Research Foundation.  Thanks also goes to my PhD advisor, Makram Suidan, the so many folks that have patiently mentored, supported, and encouraged me since my graduate school days, and now my own student who give their 100% every day- you are the future!  As the photo implies, I also very much have my family to thank- they have sacrificed much to support their “science mom” – and I sincerely hope that one day my children will look back and think it was all worth it to have a mom that got so excited about “good” bacteria and “bad” bacteria.

But where I really got choked up at the award ceremony was to learn about who Paul L. Busch was and what he stood for.  Paul Busch was the President and CEO of the environmental consulting firm, Malcolm Pirnie, which is now ARCADIS.  He was also a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the President of the American Academy of Engineers, and a member of the U.S. EPA’s National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology.  He played an essential and personal role in developing the clean drinking water infrastructure in several major cities across the U.S. and around the world.  These are just a few examples.  But transcending this all, it is clear that he was a person with vision, a vision that drew strongly from an interdisciplinary perspective.  In his undergraduate days at MIT, Paul Busch essentially double majored in Civil Engineering and Philosophy- not a combination you see every day!  His colleagues at Malcolm Pirnie noted that he marveled at rapid advances taking place in the medical realm and encouraged others around him to similarly reach out to other disciplines in order to advance the science and practice of water engineering.  It is also clear that Paul Busch was not alone, he believed in mentoring young leaders and was the true essence of a team player, an essential asset of an interdisciplinary professional.

I am very grateful to now be at Virginia Tech, where we strongly embrace interdisciplinary education and research through the IGEP programs, ICTAS, and numerous other grass roots efforts across the university.  I am aware of the challenges of interdisciplinary graduate education, but also the tremendous rewards.  And thus I marvel that Paul Busch was already doing this 15 to 50 years ago, apparently because that was his nature and that is what worked.  I am extremely honored and humbled to receive this award and I hope that I can achieve even a fraction of the positive impact to the world that Paul Busch was able to in his lifetime.”