VICKSBURG, Miss. - Lauren Dunkin, chief of the Coastal Engineering Branch at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL), has been named the U.S. Army Corps Engineers (USACE) Manager of the Year.
The Director of Human Resources established the USACE Manager/Supervisor of the Year award to recognize outstanding civilian or military members who have made positive contributions to the profession and to the USACE mission.
“What a fantastic award and well deserved,” said CHL Director Dr. Ty Wamsley. “Lauren truly exemplifies the CHL goal to inspire a world-class workforce.”
“ERDC is very unique, and so being a supervisor at ERDC is a really unique position,” said Dunkin. “You have to be team focused and able to identify research needs, and then either recruit or build your team internally.”
Dunkin was recognized for having distinguished herself through professional excellence and overall superior performance in human resources throughout the previous calendar year by growing her branch and project portfolio. As a result of her leadership, her branch’s reimbursable work grew by 50 percent and direct program funding increased by 15 percent.
“It all goes back to the team and making sure that they have all the tools and resources that they need to be successful,” she said.
Dunkin is a staunch supporter of professional staff development, allocating half her departmental budget to development opportunities, ensuring team members receive training to be successful in their careers. In addition, mentoring is also emphasized to support each junior researcher in the branch, and Dunkin leads by example by mentoring team members and supporting branch chiefs throughout CHL.
“The branch is growing,” she said. “Being able to align teams around research areas and making sure that those individuals within the teams have the opportunity to grow professionally — that has been the most rewarding aspect.”
In addition to dealing with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dunkin also supported her team after the loss of a colleague by ensuring the continuation of several research projects and transitioning those projects to other team members.
“I am so very proud of this well-deserved recognition for Lauren but even more proud of the daily example she sets for what a world-class manager should be,” said ERDC Director Dr. David Pittman. “Her team, and truly all of ERDC, are fortunate to have her.”
Dunkin has been with the ERDC since 2010. She began her career as a researcher in the Coastal Engineering Branch before transitioning to branch chief four years ago.
“I’ve spent my career with ERDC, and the opportunity to explore different career paths has been really rewarding,” said Dunkin. “From joining after graduate school to transitioning to a project lead and more recently serving as a branch chief, there are so many rewarding career paths you can take.
“I found my place as a branch chief,” she continued. “I get to share in all the great things the team is accomplishing and make sure that they are recognized and celebrate in their collective success. I am surrounded by excellent branch members, and my team is phenomenal. This award wouldn’t be possible without their dedication and their support.”