Margaret Byron
Margaret Byron
Assistant Professor, Penn State University
University Park, PA

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I received my PhD in 2015 from the University of California Berkeley, in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. My dissertation focused on the transport and kinematics of particles in environmental turbulence-- a hugely important topic that's related to sediment transport, marine biology and ecology, and even climate change. While at Berkeley, I spent a summer at the University of Washington's Friday Harbor Labs, where I studied the biomechanics of fish swimming. I was also a fellow of the Center for Integrative Biomechanics in Education and Research (CiBER). In 2010, I got my B.S. from Princeton University, in the department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. For my undergraduate thesis, I designed and built a robotic manta ray! This project paved the way for my later interest in aquatic biomechanics and its intersection with fluid dynamics. Right now I am an assistant professor at Penn State University in the Mechanical Engineering department. My research focuses on environmental particle transport, with applications for large ocean-borne particles like marine snow and microplastic debris. I also study the locomotion of small aquatic animals with interesting swimming methods (right now, comb jellies and water boatmen, two very cool animals). Outside of the lab, I enjoy travel, music, and spending time outdoors.
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B.S.E., Princeton University, 2010 (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering); M.S., University of California Berkeley, 2012 (Civil and Environmental Engineering); Ph.D., University of California Berkeley, 2015 (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
Volunteer Opportunities
  • I am willing to be contacted by educators for possible speaking engagements in schools or in after school programs or summer camps.
  • I am willing to serve as a sponsor or coach for an engineering club or team.
  • I am willing to serve as science fair judge or other temporary volunteer at a local school.
  • I am willing to answer written interview questions to be posted on the EngineerGirl website.
  • I am willing to participate in a conference call with a group of interested students who would like to know about my career.
Latest Questions
  • Dolor, Vinna L. asked Margaret Byron, Penn State University

    Added Saturday, January 5, 2019 at 5:34 AM

    Cause, I had seen in my research that says that some companies don't hire many environmental engineers and it doesn't really apply. Thanks.
    Related to Choosing a Degree, Engineering Branches, Environmental, Interview, Preparation for College, Self Doubt, Social Concerns, Unique Challenges
    Answers 1
    Margaret Byron, Penn State University
    Answered Friday, February 1, 2019 at 5:36 PM
    Hi Vinna!  Short answer: yes, environmental engineers are definitely needed.  
    One thing you might not realize is that the term "environmental engineer" applies to a lot of different scientific disciplines. My area of expertise is environmental fluid ...
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  • Ben asked Margaret Byron, Penn State University

    Added Saturday, February 24, 2018 at 7:02 AM

    So far I learned all my 3D modeling for game and movie design using prgrams like maya. I understand I should learn programs like AutoCad and Solidworks. I just like to figure out what my end goal is, what job should I be shooting for if I wanted to spend most my day using 3D design work?

    Thanks for your time.

    Related to Computer, Engineering Skills, Internships & Jobs, Software, Special fields and Interdisciplinary
    Answers 1
    Margaret Byron, Penn State University
    Answered Thursday, April 12, 2018 at 6:20 PM
    Hi Ben,
    Lots of engineering jobs use 3D design, actually! Drafting is (I think) fading out as 3D tools become easier to use and more versatile.  In my university department, students tend to use SolidWorks (though when I was an undergrad I used ...
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  • Erin

    Added Sunday, November 26, 2017 at 7:01 PM

    Hello! I am a senior in high school in the midst of college applications. I've always loved my science and math classes, and have known that I wanted to go into a STEM field. The majority of schools that I'm applying to require me to apply to a specific college within the university, including Arts and Sciences or Engineering. I've been struggling for a few months on trying to decide which one to apply to, since I like both. I really enjoy science and theory, in particular chemistry. But I ...
    Answers 1
    Margaret Byron, Penn State University
    Answered Thursday, December 7, 2017 at 8:04 AM
    Hi Erin,
    Tough call!  There are some key differences between what you will learn as an undergraduate in a science major (like biology or chemistry) or an engineering major (like bioengineering or chemical engineering).  You're right that engineering ...
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