LSU Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Named Ogden Honors College's 2022-23 Sternberg Professor

March 15, 2023

Clint Willson

By Madison Buchanan

The Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College has selected Professor Clint Willson of LSU’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering as the 2022-23 Erich and Lea Sternberg Honors Professor. Established by Lea Sternberg in 1996, the professorship is the highest award conferred to faculty by the Ogden Honors College.

Willson came to LSU in 1998 as an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering at Penn State, spent six and a half years in the U.S. Marine Corps, then obtained a master’s in environmental engineering and a doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He also spent two years as a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Environmental Science and Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

At LSU, Willson teaches fluid mechanics, hydrologic design, coastal and ecological design and river mechanics and engineering. He is on the executive committee for the LSU Coastal Ecosystem Design Studio and the Center for Collaborative Knowledge. As well as the faculty advisor for the LSU Global Water Brigades, the LSU American Society of Civil Engineers, and the Coast, Oceans, Ports and Rivers Institute (COPRI).

From 2015 to 2020, Willson served as the faculty-in-residence in the Laville Honors House. “It all started with living and interacting with the students, as well as becoming very active with the Honors College through weekend trips to places like Houston, Memphis, and Huntsville,” Professor Willson said. He also led book clubs and participated in LASAL program events, including traveling to LUMCON.

Willson co-taught an upper-level Honors course with Granger Babcock, which focused on the Mississippi River and the coast, and the issues seen with both. “We both brought different perspectives, backgrounds and knowledge to the course,” Willson said. “I was focused on the engineering and coastal/river side of things while Granger brought the history and policies. It was fun.”

“I really like getting to interact and have very meaningful, thoughtful discussions with students – who are engaged, passionate, and come from almost every major at LSU,” Willson said. “They bring different backgrounds, interests, and knowledge from courses they have had in the past. So you get that opportunity for depth and breadth at the same time, which allows connections between topics you may have not seen before.” Willson also says that teaching in the Honors College has allowed him to improve upon his own communications skills in relation to engineering.

Sternberg professors are required to have outstanding academic qualifications and credentials; a preeminent teaching record; honorable moral and ethical character. They must also have the capacity to promote intellectual and social progress, trustworthiness, leadership, and patriotism. Additionally, they are required to participate in teaching and be involved with the Honors College, including delivering a formal lecture during the term of the professorship.

Willson’s lecture will be centered around thinking about the Mississippi River as a system of systems that have been engineered differently based upon the varying geography, topography, and economics of those regions. He will discuss the ways these systems have been engineered in an attempt to manage them, and what it means for the future as economic stresses and pressures change. He will also explore how we might need to manage the rivers in relation to climate change.

This lecture will take place in the Hans and Donna Sternberg Salon of the French House on Wednesday, April 19 at 4:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. Space is limited. Please register here.