Academy of Distinguished Alumni

Alumni Image #1:
Image Caption Title #1: Air Quality Reseach
Image Caption #1: Niemeier's research group has challenged conventional wisdom and motivated large numbers of new studies around the world examining air pollutant concentrations at much greater distances to roadside edge than previously thought necessary.
headshot of Deb A. Niemeier

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Deb A. Niemeier

B.S., University of Texas at Austin, Civil Engineering, 1982

For two decades, Deb Niemeier has focused on integrating models for estimating mobile source emissions with transportation modeling. She has developed groundbreaking tools to assess the multi-sector impact of major infrastructure projects. Her work has led to new ways to identify spatial properties or mobile source emissions, new methods to develop vehicle emissions inventories, and improved regulatory guidance, including better identification of vulnerable populations. A National Academy of Engineering Member, Deb is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Davis, where she has been focused on teaching, research and administration for 20 years.

As an undergraduate at UT, Deb almost slipped under the radar until a beloved faculty member intervened. Dr. Mike Walton had seen Deb, a bright and amicable student from one of his classes, playing frisbee on the ECJ plaza quite frequently. He soon realized it was too frequently. He didn’t want a great mind to go to waste so he approached her with a smile and said something along the lines of “don’t you have some work you should be doing?” That small act made her feel that she was more than just a number at a big university – someone noticed, and cared enough to say something. Deb and Dr. Walton have kept in touch ever since. Throughout the years, he has been impressed with the professional connections she has made – people who have become mentors and who helped her mold her career and research.

Deb’s career at UC Davis has been widely successful and fulfilling. She is a big thinker and her research on transportation-related air pollution is a field unto itself. Her research group has challenged conventional wisdom and motivated large numbers of new studies around the world examining air pollutant concentrations at much greater distances to the roadside edge than previously thought necessary.

In addition to teaching and research, she has served in a number of administrative roles including department chair, Associate Vice Chancellor for her university’s Office of Research, and has served as director of a variety of research centers.

Working with an interdisciplinary research group of graduate students, post-doctoral scholars, and faculty collaborators, she has published more than 180 journal articles and been a major advisor for 30 Ph.D. students who now serve on university faculty at various institutions including Cornell University, University of Illinois, University of New Mexico, McGill University and of course most importantly The University of Texas at Austin.