Carolyn J. Merry, Chair of the Ohio State Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geodetic Engineering; Dies at Age 63

June 5, 2014

Merry, CarolynCarolyn J. Merry, Ph.D., M.ASCE, faculty emeritus and past chair of the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering at Ohio State University (OSU), tragically passed away when her car was involved in a crash with two tractor-trailers on I-71 in Madison County, Ohio, early on the morning of June 4; she was 63. Named chair of the OSU Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Geodetic Science on July 31, 2005, Merry made major improvements to the university department’s labs, offices, and meeting rooms with money, time, and equipment donated by civil alumni and industry partners. In turn, the department benefited with 14 endowments during her time as chair. Before officially retiring from OSU on April 13, 2013, she directed a successful ABET review of the department’s 2 undergraduate programs and established a separate degree program in environmental engineering at the undergraduate level, as well as shepherding a department name change. She fostered a new group of 7 faculty hires in the areas of geodetic engineering/image understanding, ecological engineering, environmental fluid mechanics, biotechnology and biomolecular engineering, watershed hydrology and hydrodynamics, infrastructure engineering, and engineering energy policy. She also mentored 4 faculty members through the assistant to associate professor level and 3 faculty members through the associate to full professor level. In addition, during her tenure she increased the department’s research activities from $2.1 million worth to $3.4 million and had continued to teach when her schedule permitted. Born September 18, 1950, Merry earned her bachelor’s degree in geology from Edinboro State College, her master’s degree in geology from Dartmouth College, and her doctoral degree in civil engineering from the University of Maryland. Upon graduation, Merry worked for 15 years at the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, in New Hampshire, as a research physical scientist and geologist. A professor and interim director of Ohio State’s Center for Mapping, she joined the OSU Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering in the fall of 1988 as an assistant professor, teaching surveying and remote sensing before moving up through the ranks to become department chair in 2005. Past chair of ASCE’s Department Heads Council Executive Committee and past president of the ASCE Central Ohio Section, Merry earned ASCE’s 2012 Surveying and Mapping Award “in recognition of her outstanding efforts to advance geomatics through teaching and research and through activities of professional groups.” Former president of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing and the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, and chair of the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations, she was also a member of the National Geospatial Advisory Committee and the National Academy of Sciences, Mapping Science Committee. Among the many projects Merry worked on were analyzing high resolution imagery to map and count vehicles along highways as part of the National Consortium on Remote Sensing in Transportation Flows in Transportation; mapping temperatures, chlorophyll, and surface turbidity patterns from Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer and SeaWiFS (Sea-Viewing Wide Field-of-View Sensor) satellite data for use in predicting water quality; preparing land use / land cover maps along the coast of Lake Erie for use in developing a time-series of land cover change; using Landsat-7 and digital terrain data for hydrologic engineering applications as part of the OhioView Consortium; and using satellite imagery to evaluate and map a tractor-train traverse route from McMurdo Station to the South Pole, Antarctica. In 2009, with gifts from her husband, Robert K. Redfield, the Carolyn J. Merry Engineering Scholarship Fund was established at OSU to provide renewable scholarships to civil or environmental engineering undergraduates.

  • I’m sorry to hear of this tragic loss. My thoughts and prayers are with her family. She is missed by so many and I know our whole ASCE family is grieving.

  • We were shocked and saddened to hear of Carolyn’s death. She will be missed by many, many people.

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