The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) recently elected Colorado School of Public Health Clinical Professor Louis Anthony Cox Jr., PhD to its distinguished membership association. Cox was one of 66 U.S. professionals and 10 foreign associates elected to the NAE in 2012. Election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer and is based on an individual’s outstanding contributions to the field. Cox was selected for his application of operations research and risk analysis to solving significant national problems.
“It is exciting and encouraging that the Academy recognizes that risk analysis and modeling can and should be contributors to solving vital national engineering challenges,” Cox said.
When applied to engineering, public health methods such as risk analysis can better inform engineers of the probable health and safety consequences of different design choices and operating decisions. “Industrial engineering and operations research typically look at how best to design and operate complex man-made systems, using models about the causal relations between alternate choices and their probable consequences,” Cox said. “Methods of public health analytics, such as biostatistics, bioinformatics, and epidemiology can greatly clarify these causal relations.”
According to Cox, risk analysis is most powerful when applied to decision and policy making problems, such as reducing occupational health risks from energy production, or for determining how best to position antibiotics and allocate resources to reduce risks from bioterrorist attacks.
Cox, who is the president of Cox Associates, Denver, holds a faculty appointment in the school’s Department of Biostatistics and Informatics. “The department is proud to have one of its faculty awarded such an honor for innovative and adaptive applications of traditional engineering principles to difficult and important public health research problems," said department chair Dennis Lezotte, PhD.
The NAE is a private, independent, nonprofit institution that provides engineering leadership in service to the United States.