Research

The Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is globally recognized for its impact in water resource management and air quality, user-centered built environments, bio-inspired manufacturing solutions, novel building materials, disaster recovery, large scale 3D printing, robotics and autonomous systems deployed in construction as well as novel transportation and infrastructure solutions.

Our mission

Our researchers advance the ever-growing ability of science, engineering,
and technology to discover, analyze and create solutions to the greatest
challenges facing humanity today.

How do we sustain life on our planet in the wake of climate change? Which are the most sustainable solutions for managing our water, air and environmental systems? What will our growing cities look like and how do we enable a stable economy and a healthy society that ensures equal opportunity and access for all? How do we design and build better, smarter, and more resilient urban environments? How do we predict and adapt to increasing extreme events? What are the materials and techniques that we will use to build the communities and infrastructure of the future? Our faculty and students work to address these wicked problems. Their solutions will fundamentally shape life on earth for generations to come.
Research

Engineering for Disaster Resilience

Our increasing reliance on complex, interconnected systems makes the consequences of failure more severe and underscores the need to enhance our resilience to natural (e.g., earthquakes, tsunamis, floods) and human-caused disasters (e.g., terrorist attacks, engineering failures, industrial accidents). Research and education in this area enables communities to better anticipate, prevent and adapt to disasters, reducing their economic, social, cultural, and environmental impact.

Meet the researchers:

Dr. Bora Gencturk | Dr. Erik Johnson | Dr. Patrick Lynett | Dr. Sami Masri | Dr. Costas Synolakis | Dr Chukwuebuka Nweke | Dr. Mihailo Trifunac | Dr. Carter Wellford | Dr. Vincent Lee | Dr. Burçin Becerik-Gerber | Dr. Najmedin Meshkati
Dr. Bora Gencturk
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Dr. Erik Johnson
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Dr. Patrick Lynett
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Dr. Sami Masri
Dr. Costas Synolakis
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Dr. Chukwuebuka Nweke
Dr. Mihailo Trifunac
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Dr. Carter Wellford
Dr. Vincent Lee
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Dr. Burçin Becerik-Gerber
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Dr. Najmedin Meshkati
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Research Highlight: Dr. Chukwuebuka Nweke


Dr. Nweke focuses on applying components of data analytics (including statistical analysis, machine
learning, and database management) to solve problems at the intersection of geotechnical engineering, earthquake engineering, seismology, and geomorphology. His research interests are modeling geo-materials and investigating seismic and other natural hazards at the local (site) and regional scales.


Engineering for Extreme Habitats

As our climate continues to change and population growth pushes the bounds of our habitable environment while armed conflict displaces millions, humankind faces the need to survive and thrive in harsher conditions. This research thrust focuses on developing and deploying new tools, computational models, novel materials, construction technologies and methods to design, build and maintain civil infrastructure under extreme environments such as deep-sea structures, extreme temperatures (deserts, polar), flood risk areas, and extraterrestrial habitats.

Meet the researchers:

Dr. Lucio Soibelman | Dr. Berok Khoshnevis | Dr. Thomas  Petersen | Dr. Qiming Wang | Dr. Bora Gencturk
Dr. Lucio Soibelman
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Dr. Berok Khoshnevis
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Dr. Thomas  Petersen
Dr. Qiming Wang
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Dr. Bora Gencturk
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Research Highlight: Dr. Lucio Soibelman


For the past 25 years, Dr. Soibelman has focused his research on advanced data acquisition, management, visualization, and mining for construction and operations of advanced infrastructure systems. His research group looks at ways information technology impacts economic development, construction management, process integration during the development of large-scale engineering systems as well as information logistics, artificial intelligence, data mining, knowledge discovery, image reasoning, text mining, machine learning, advanced infrastructure systems, sensors, streaming data, and Multi-reasoning Mechanisms.

Engineering for Urban Livability

Urban spaces must not only be safe, resilient, and sustainable, they must also improve the quality of life for their inhabitants, satisfying their physical, psychological, and social needs. This research thrust creates new methods, tools, technologies, and innovations that help manage and predict the complex nexus of urban systems. We focus on a sense of place and time, supporting engagement, accessibility, human-infrastructure interaction and adaptation and control of urban spaces.

Meet the researchers:

Dr. Burçin Becerik-Gerber | Dr. Lucio Soibelman | Dr. Audrey Olivier | Dr. Roger Ghanem | Dr. Sami Masri | Dr. Kelly Sanders
Dr. Burçin Becerik-Gerber
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Dr. Lucio Soibelman
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Dr. Audrey Olivier
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Dr. Roger Ghanem
Dr. Sami Masri
Dr. Kelly Sanders
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Researcher Highlight: Dr. Audrey Olivier


Dr. Audrey Olivier's research combines physics-based modeling, data analytics and uncertainty quantification to help humanity build the resilient and smart urban environments of today and tomorrow.

Engineering for Environmental Stewardship

Sustainability in the context of civil engineering envisions the long-term viability of natural resources and engineered civil systems. We focus on systems and methods that provide an adequate supply of potable water, support water reuse and wastewater management, mitigate air pollution and climate change, ensure food security, create renewable resources, innovate carbon capture and utilization, and address plastic and solid waste.

Meet the researchers:

Dr. Amy Childress | Dr. Felipe DeBarros | Dr. Daniel McCurry | Dr. Massoud Pirbazari | Dr. Kelly Sanders | Dr. Adam Smith | Dr. Qiming Wang | Dr. Thomas Petersen | Dr. Constantinos Sioutas
Dr. Amy Childress
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Dr. Felipe DeBarros
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Dr. Daniel McCurry
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Dr. Massoud Pirbazari
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Dr. Kelly Sanders
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Dr. Adam Smith
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Dr. Qiming Wang
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Dr. Thomas Petersen
Dr. Constantinos Sioutas
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Research Highlight: Amy Childress


Dr. Childress' research addresses the global challenge of fresh water scarcity. Her research group focuses on membrane contactor processes for innovative solutions to contaminant and energy challenges; pressure-driven membrane processes as industry standards for desalination and water reuse; membrane bioreactor technology; and colloidal and interfacial aspects of membrane processes. She is constantly rethinking how to address wastewater reclamation and seawater desalination challenges that occur in Southern California and around the world.

Engineering for Transport Service Systems

Mobility has been a catalyst in the evolution and growth of civilizations, and in improving the quality of life in the modern world. Transport systems of the future will be hyper- connected, physically, and digitally, capable of providing end-to-end service for the movement of people and goods. Research and education in this area integrate breakthroughs in computing and autonomy, while addressing the need to achieve and sustain equal access to transport services amidst a dynamic, constantly moving world.

Meet the researchers:

Dr. Ketan Savla
Dr. Ketan Savla
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Research Highlight: Ketan Savla


Dr. Savla's research at the Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering covers areas in distributed robust and optimal control, dynamical networks, state-dependent queueing systems, and incentive design, with applications in civil infrastructure (e.g., transportation, energy) and robotic (e.g., automated vehicles, multi-agent) systems.