Our fifth woman faculty member: Lutgarde Raskin

Lutgarde RaskinIn the Winter 2018 CEE Magazine issue, we missed one of our early women faculty members: Lutgarde Raskin (PhD 93). Raskin was the fifth woman faculty member in the department.

Before coming to Illinois to work on her doctorate, Raskin earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees from KU Leuven, in Belgium. Raskin joined the CEE at Illinois faculty as an assistant professor in 1993 and remained until 2005, having achieved the rank of professor.

Since 2005, Raskin has been on the faculty of the University Michigan, where she is the Altarum/ERIM Russell O’Neal Professor of Engineering. A long list of honors includes the ISME/IWA Biocluster Award (2016), the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors Frontier Award in Research (2007) and the American Society of Civil Engineers Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize (2006). 

Most recently, she was selected to be the 2018-2019 Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors Distinguished Lecturer. She hopes to visit Illinois on her lecture tour next academic year.

“I am inspired by the complexity of the microbial world and the astonishing progress we have made in the field of microbial ecology over the past few decades,” Raskin states on her research website. “This progress continuously motivates me to rethink engineered systems so we can better harness the power of microorganisms to treat water and recover resources from waste stream. Most of the research projects my team and I work on strive to understand and improve various aspects of the engineered water cycle microbiome to improve human health using sustainable design approaches.”

As a Ph.D. student at Illinois uncertain about which career path to follow, she was encouraged by one of her mentors, Professor Emeritus Vern Snoeyink, to pursue academia. This was a turning point for her.

“Being in academia has allowed me to work on research with graduate students, and we continue to make new discoveries,” Raskin said. “One of the best parts of my job is seeing graduates students grow from knowing very little to becoming experts in their field. It is very rewarding to see this happen right before my eyes.”

Left to right, Raskin's husband Eric Michielssen, children Elien, Senne and Marlies Michielssen, and Raskin, taken after the high school graduation of Elien and Marlies.