CEE, ChBE professors are the 47th and 48th members of the Academy from Georgia Tech.

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Two College of Engineering professors are among the newest members of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), the organization announced Feb. 6.

Patricia Mokhtarian and David Sholl are part of a 2024 class that includes 114 new members and 21 international members. Election to the NAE is among the highest professional recognitions for engineers and an honor bestowed on just 2,600 professionals worldwide.

New members are nominated and voted on by the Academy’s existing membership. With Mokhtarian and Sholl, Georgia Tech now has 48 NAE members.

Travel Behavior

Mokhtarian is the inaugural Clifford and William Greene, Jr. Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, where she studies travel behavior, including the travel-related impacts of information and communication technology and other topics. The NAE cited Mokhtarian’s work that “improved transportation systems planning and practice through quantifying human behavior” in electing her to the Academy.

I have long said that I am having the career of my dreams, and this is certainly a high point,” Mokhtarian said. “My time at Georgia Tech has been such a joy, from the utmost support of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering to my fantastic students who are continually teaching me new things and making me look good. I look forward to the future with great anticipation.

Mokhtarian’s research put her in prime position as the Covid-19 pandemic upended working life for many office-based professionals and gave remote work a seismic boost. She has become a go-to expert for national news organizations as the fallout of those changes continues to reverberate and teleworking has become a regular part of many employees’ lives.

Most recently, Mokhtarian helped launch the federally funded Center for Understanding Future Travel Behavior and Demand in 2023. She serves as associate director of the University Transportation Center, which is focused on creating new models and tools to help planners understand rapidly emerging technology, changing economics, and new societal values that are shaping the modern transportation environment.

Mokhtarian is among the most frequently cited scholars in transportation research. In 2021, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Association for Travel Behaviour Research for her contributions to the field.

Pat Mokhtarian headshot

Pat Mokhtarian

David Sholl headshot

David Sholl (photo: Genevieve Martin, ORNL/U.S. Dept. of Energy)

Materials and Sustainability

Sholl is professor and Cecile L. and David I.J. Wang Faculty Fellow in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. He served as the John F. Brock III School Chair from 2013 to 2021. His research uses computational tools to study materials whose dynamic and thermodynamic properties are strongly influenced by their atomic structure. 

The NAE cited him “for addressing large-scale chemical separation challenges, including carbon dioxide capture, using quantitative materials modeling.”

“This recognition would not have been possible without the amazing work of the graduate students and postdoctoral researchers I have worked with at Georgia Tech and the wonderful scientific collaborations I have had with many colleagues in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering,” Sholl said.

In addition to Georgia Tech, Sholl has an appointment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), where he is director of the Transformational Decarbonization Initiative. He also leads an Energy Earthshot Research Center created at ORNL in late 2023 to develop chemical processes that use sustainable methods instead of burning fossil fuels to radically reduce industrial greenhouse gas emissions.

During his tenure as school chair, Sholl helped drive ChBE’s national rankings to second among undergraduate chemical engineering programs and fifth among graduate programs. He oversaw a milestone change in the School’s student body that saw women make up half of undergrads for the first time. He also launched a graduate certificate in Data Science for the Chemical Industry, Georgia Tech’s first fully online graduate certificate.

Sholl is a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Sholl and Mokhtarian will be formally inducted into the Academy in September. They will be joined by two other members with ties to Georgia Tech.

Theodore “Ted” Colbert III was elected “for engineering leadership in advanced commercial and military air and space platforms.” A 1996 graduate of the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Colbert is president and chief executive officer of Defense, Space, and Security at Boeing. Colbert also is a member of the College’s Academy of Distinguished Engineering Alumni.

Larry Pellett, a 1981 alumnus of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was honored for “engineering development, transition, and operation of airborne system technologies for national security.” He is vice president of special programs at Lockheed Martin Corp. 

The NAE offers independent advice on engineering matters to support the nation’s prosperity and welfare and supports a vibrant engineering profession.

Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature” and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”

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