Piechota has led efforts to expand the research enterprise at Chapman since he established the Office of Research in 2016, led an effort of Carnegie R2 (High Research Activity) designation in December 2018, and oversaw a tripling of research expenditures from 2016 to 2020. He has been recognized for his efforts in teaching, research, and university administration.
From 1999 to 2016, Piechota was a professor and vice president for research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He taught and led various research efforts on the impact of climate variability/change impacts on the water resources of the western United States and Pacific Rim countries. In 1999, his research was recognized as the Best Paper of the Year for ASCE’s Journal of Hydrologic Engineering. In 2003, he received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for the project "Improved Hydrologic Drought Forecasting Using Climate Information." From 2008 to 2013, Piechota was the Co-PI on a $20 million NSF-funded study on climate change impacts in Nevada. He was an invited Lead Author for the Southwest Chapter of the National Climate Assessment in 2013.
He has authored or co-authored more than 100 journal articles, book chapters, conference proceedings, and reports, and his work has been cited more than 3,800 times. He has served on review panels for the National Science Foundation and various federal agencies. He has also served on various professional and community committees, including those of ASCE.
Piechota has shown tremendous commitment to mentoring students, including 13 years as the faculty advisor for the ASCE Student Chapter at UNLV, where he received national recognition in 2008, and as major advisor for 24 graduate students. He was one of the lead advisors of the 2013 Solar Decathlon team that took second place in world competition and first in the United States.
Piechota received his bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1989 from Northern Arizona University, his master's degree in civil and environmental engineering in 1993 from UCLA, his doctorate in civil and environmental engineering in 1997 from UCLA, and a certificate from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Institute for Management and Leadership in Education in 2015. He is a licensed professional engineer in California.