headshot of Patricia Culligan

Patricia J. Culligan, Ph.D., C.Eng, F.ICE, FAAAS, Dist.M.ASCE, the Matthew H. McCloskey Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Notre Dame, has been honored with inclusion by ASCE in its 2024 class of distinguished members for her contributions to geoenvironmental and sustainability engineering through research that advances sustainable solutions to water, energy, and environmental management; for leadership in professional services and engineering education; and for commitment to broadening participation in STEM.

Culligan’s very recognized and versatile work spans several areas – from groundwater protection to energy dissipation and storage to urban water management. She has made explicit contributions to advancing the understanding of mechanisms governing porous media flow and transport and is responsible for developing many of the scaling laws used today for geotechnical centrifuge modeling of fluid, heat, and contaminant transport in soils. She spearheaded a trajectory of research that is novel and has long-lasting impacts. Indeed, her efforts have shaped new research paradigms, including expanding the boundaries of geoenvironmental and sustainability engineering to enhance human health and the environment, and most recently through her work to quantify the role of green infrastructure in urban sustainability and resilience goals.

As dean of Notre Dame Engineering, she oversees and supports the college’s 200 faculty, 100 staff, and 2,700 undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students. Previously she was department chair and professor of civil engineering and engineering mechanics at Columbia University. It was there she was the founding associate director of Columbia’s Data Science Institute. Culligan is the author or co-author of seven books, seven book chapters, and over 180 technical articles.

Invitations to named lectures include the Stanley Wilson Memorial Lecture, the Arthur Casagrande Memorial Lecture, the Sowers Lecture, the Ardaman-Wissa Lecture  and the Norma Slepecky Memorial Lecturer. In 2021 she was awarded the H. Bolton Seed Medal by ASCE for expanding the boundaries of geoenvironmental and sustainability engineering. 

Culligan has served as an active member of the editorial board of top journals, as well as member and chairman of several important committees and boards, including the Board of Governors of the ASCE Geo-Institute, the National Academies Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board, the National Academies Board of Earth Sciences and Resources Committee on Geological and Geotechnical Engineering, as well as seven U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine  committees, of which two were congressionally mandated committees. She is currently an inaugural member of the Polaris Council, an advisory committee to the Government Accountability Office Science, Technology and Analytics division.  

Over the past two decades, her research program has attracted over $33.3 million in eternal funding ($24 million as PI; $9.3 million as co-PI), and she has supervised over 50 student research theses.

Culligan recently was honored as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Culligan is is a Chartered Engineer registered with the UK Engineering Council and a fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, in Britain. She earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in engineering from the University of Cambridge, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Leeds.