Background Info –non-academic, industry experience, hobbies
I was born in Madison WI, and grew up in So. Cal. I graduated from Harvey Mudd College with a BS in Mathematics. I got my first job as a Member of the Technical Staff at TRW Inc. I remember being dismayed when my boss said he had to pay me less since I didn’t have an engineering degree, but rather a math degree!
I enjoy mountain biking and yoga and make time for these activities a few times a week since they keep me grounded and sane! In the winter I telemark and cross country ski, but I am more of a warm weather person. I grew up near to the beach and went to grad school in Berkeley, so have always loved the ocean.
Are you active in any professional societies?
I am a member of the International Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate. I was the president of their most recent conference Healthy Buildings 2015 America, which we hosted at CU Boulder. I am also a member of the American Association for Aerosol Research and am on the Finance Committee. I am also a board member of the International Ultraviolet Association. I’d like to get more active in the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors and help to grow the air quality members and content.
What are you passionate about?
Good question. I am passionate about supporting women in STEM and about improving the overall culture for women in society and leadership. To this end, I made it a goal to run an inclusive Healthy Buildings conference and I am most proud of how many women participated. I am also passionate about improving indoor air quality, and reducing the environmental impact that humans have, especially as it relates to air quality in urban areas. I am committed to social justice and focusing my energy and resources to understand and improve air quality in low income communities.
What classes do you teach?
Freshman design projects GEEN 1400, Air Pollution Control Engineering MCEN 4131, Indoor Air Pollution MCEN 4141. I have also taught Measurements Lab, Thermodynamics, Air Quality Measurements, Aerosols for Mechanical Engineering, and Environmental Toxins for EVEN
What is your favorite thing about being an environmental engineering professor at CU?
The students are really amazing. They are engaged and work hard in classes. I also appreciate that we attract a high percentage of female students to our program. I think the 1st class we ever had were all women? My colleagues are the best in the country, industrious, creative, forward thinking, collegial. CU Boulder has amazing programs for students, including the RAPs, student societies, research opportunities.
What sets CU’s environmental engineering program apart from others?
We have a very unique interdisciplinary curriculum, that encompasses all aspects of environmental engineering. It is also rigorously science-based. I appreciate that it is supported by many engineering departments at CU and so many views of environmental engineering are reflected in the program. Plus we are located in a region with National Labs, government agencies and many environmental nonprofits so that they students have ample opportunity to engage in the scientific and policy world outside of academia.
Do you have any advice or words of wisdom to give to prospective or current students?
I always encourage students to visit their professors in office hours. We love that and want to know our students individually, not just en-mass in the classroom. I also encourage students to put forward their best effort, be professional and kind. Also get enough sleep and take time out for yourself.
Your research focuses on indoor and urban air pollution. What are the biggest challenges we currently face regarding these issues? What are the major difficulties in researching these issues?
Urban air pollution issues differ depending on where you live. In the Denver metro area the major issue is ozone. In other regions of the country it would be PM2.5. In Colorado we also have to worry about radon, I recommend everyone checking their levels with a $30 test from the local hardware store. A major source of indoor air pollution is cooking. I highly recommend opening the windows, or running your exhaust fan while cooking.
As an experienced and successful female engineer and faculty member, how have you seen the nature of the field change over the years? Do you have any advice for women worried about finding their place in engineering?
I have enjoyed seeing a wider variety of social styles and personalities join the ranks for engineering. I love that kids are being exposed to engineering during elementary school years. Unfortunately the gender balance is still surprisingly poor. I am committed to working harder to understand why this is and help to change it. Many places have workplace cultures that are not supportive of women engineers, so I recommend paying particular attention to this when you look for a job and make sure there are at least a few female leaders around you – do what you love, promote yourself and your successes.
You stress a healthy work-life balance. How do you personally balance your work life, your family life, and everything else you do? Does yoga play an important part?
I try to make choices every day that allow for a little quality time with myself, my friends and my family. Some days this is not possible, but I know that I will make up for it down the road since it is a focus and priority. You only have 1 life and you get out of it what you put into it. Yoga plays a very big role in my life, it is a way for me to empty my mind, tune into my soul and physical body, and my community. Yoga has been a part of my life since I moved to Boulder in 1996, so for almost 20 years! I do not know what I would do without it – I tried to incorporate it into my engineering class one semester but the students were very resistant! I hope to do this again one day when there is more interest and trust among the students.
What is the most significant thing we can do to have a positive effect on the world around us?
Honestly? Be kind to everyone around you. Pay attention to what you use up in this world and what you give back to the world around you. Treat everyone fairly and honorably. Work hard and focus. Be in the moment.
Shelly Miller Contact Information
In the news:
New EPA grant for EVEN Professor Shelly Miller
EVEN Prof. Shelly Miller's new publication
EVEN Professor Shelly Miller new award
New study on fine particulate matter and mortality in the DASH
August, 20th 2015