Research Highlights

Municipal Solid Waste Landfills and Seismic Risk Mitigation

Each year, 75 million tons of Municipal Solid Waste in the United States goes to landfills. This amount of waste would fill in just one year the entire Manhattan in New York City to a height of 70 m or 210 ft! Modern landfills are sophisticated facilities designed to protect public health and the environment by containing the municipal solid waste. Many of these landfills are so large that they exceed the size of the Hoover Dam!

Landfills need to remain stable when the next...

Ann Jeffers

Traveling fires – Do they really matter?

Assistant Professor Ann Jeffers analyzes structures subjected to extreme load events, such as fire and earthquakes. She is currently working to characterize the influence of traveling fires on the fire resistance of structural systems.

Part of her research involves studying the damages done by smoldering embers, called fire brands, which travel from wildfires. These embers can cause ignition, lighting roofs and siding or falling...

Adda Athanasopoulos-Zekkos

Measuring Response and Performance for Levee Systems and Dams

Professor Adda Athanasopoulos-Zekkos became interested in levee systems when her PhD advisor at UC Berkeley offered her the opportunity to join an investigation of New Orleans levees after Hurricane Katrina hit.

"It was like CSI in terms of geotechnical engineering," she says of her time in Louisiana. "You have to walk around the site and take note of subtle details that may indicate how movement...

SangHyun Lee

Understanding Human Behavior on Construction Sites

When it comes to job site safety, construction industry statistics do not shine. The number of fatalities is almost three times higher, on average, than for all other industries, and researchers over the years have found that 80% to 90% of fatalities result from unsafe worker behavior. CEE Professor SangHyun Lee is working to improve those statistics and save lives.

"Since most construction accidents are related to human...

Branko Kerkez

The Internet for Water Assistant Professor Branko Kerkez is interested in the control and optimization of water grids. He plans to investigate how new technologies can be deployed to mitigate water waste and increase reliability of the existing water distribution infrastructure during extreme events. Using a system-level approach, Kerkez is working to conceptualize the man-made and natural components of water networks while tying them together through advances in sensing, communication,...

Brian Ellis

How will fracking impact the environment? Fracking, a natural gas drilling process, has been a controversial topic due to its potential environmental and societal impacts. Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, injects large amounts of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to break apart rock and free natural gas. Recent technological advances have unlocked stores of previously inaccessible natural gas, resulting in a fracking boom.

Assistant professor Brian Ellis is...

Krista Wigginton

Detecting and Treating Drinking Water Contaminants

Assistant Professor Krista Wigginton researches the fate of chemical and microbial pollutants in drinking water and wastewater treatment. Ultimately, she wants to find out how effective these treatments are on eliminating viruses. "With the worldwide population increase and decreasing water supplies, the threat of contaminants from human waste, such as pathogens and pharmaceuticals, entering drinking water sources is...

Herek Clack

Mercury Emission Control

Research Associate Professor Herek Clack and his students are researching the control of toxic air pollutants, specifically toxic metals like mercury, that are emitted from combustion-related processes such as coal-fired power plants.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) issued the world’s first regulation limiting the emission of toxic metals, including mercury, from U.S.-based electric utilities and industrial boilers. ...

NIST TIP Project

NIST TIP Project

Field Testing Technologies for NIST TIP Project

Field testing plays an integral role in the NIST TIP project being led by Associate Professor Jerry Lynch of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. It is necessary to validate the performance of the technologies being developed for the project. These technologies must be able to withstand unpredictable and harsh environmental conditions. The project is focusing on two test sites.

The new Carquinez Bridge in...

Sherif El-Tawil

What would you do in an imminent collapse situation?

Visualizing planned construction operations in an immersive interactive world improves coordination, safety, and communication during construction.

How do building occupants respond to signals issued by a building during and immediately after a compromising event that threatens its integrity? How does the building itself respond and how does that response influence occupant survival rates?

Prof. El-Tawil...

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