Civil and Environmental Engineering
Department e-Newsletter

Vol. 3, Issue 1

CEE Department Chair Brett F. Sanders, Ph.D.

Dear friends,

With both respect and enthusiasm, I began my term as chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at UC Irvine on July 1, 2010. I owe a great deal to Distinguished Professor Masanobu Shinozuka, who served in this capacity for the previous nine years, as he steps down to continue as an active member of the faculty with more time to focus on research and instructional activities.

This summer, both our civil engineering and environmental engineering B.S. degrees were re-accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET, Inc.), through 2014, and this fall, our graduate programs were ranked by the National Research Council in the top 30 nationally, and among the best graduate programs on the UC Irvine campus. This is wonderful news that we can build on as we pursue our mission: "to educate students, at all levels, to be the best engineers and leaders in the nation and world by engaging them in a stimulating community dedicated to the discovery of knowledge, creation of new technologies, and service to society."



 Brett Sanders Named New CEE Department ChairBrett Sanders

The Henry Samueli School of Engineering named Brett F. Sanders, Ph.D., professor of civil and environmental engineering, the new chair of CEE, effective July 1. 

Sanders received a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley (1993) and master's and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan (1994, 1997).  His expertise is in river engineering, coastal engineering and natural hazards, and he specializes in numerical modeling. Recently, his group has focused on high-resolution prediction of coastal and inland flood inundation. Since joining UC Irvine in 1997, he has served in a variety of roles at the department and school level. He has led the Environmental Engineering undergraduate and graduate programs, chaired the School's undergraduate affairs committee, has been a member of Graduate Council, led the ABET review of the CEE Department, and served on the steering committee of the School's Strategic Plan.  Sanders has consistently been recognized not only for his research, but also for his excellence in teaching, receiving numerous campus and school awards.

CEE Professor Promotions Sunny Jiang

Sunny Jiang, Ph.D., and Michael McNally, Ph.D., were promoted to full professors of civil and environmental engineering in July 2010. Jiang's research group focuses on microbial water quality, microbial ecology and environmental impact to human health. She is applying molecular biotechnology tools for assessment and detection of microbial pathogens in the aquatic environment. Jiang holds joint appointments with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Environmental Toxicology program in the School of Medicine. She is also a member of the Center for Virus Research.


McNally's research interests focus on the study of complex travel behavior, investigations of interrelationships between transportation and land Michael McNallyuse, and the development of new technologies and modeling methodologies which reflect and support these research areas. He is active in research and development relating to: activity-based travel forecasting models; web-based self-administered travel surveys; GPS-based, wireless in-vehicle data collection systems; the role of information on traveler behavior; multi-jurisdictional corridor decision support systems; and microsimulation models.

The EntertainerThe Entertainer

Ragtime - that bright, toe-tapping piano music that flourished in bars, brothels and parlor rooms in the early 1900s - has found an unlikely promoter and practitioner at UC Irvine: a young civil engineering student named Jared DiBartolomeo.

DiBartolomeo belongs to a generation that worships technology, was raised on rap and is addicted to keyboards - the kind attached to computers and electronic toys. But sit him in front of a piano and, with the first infectious bars of Eubie Blake's "Charleston Rag," he can transport listeners back to the days before the phonograph.



Story: Kathryn Bold, University Communications
Photo: Steve Zylius, University Communications



Jay Famiglietti

 A Glass Half Empty

Earth System Science and Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Jay Famiglietti, Ph.D., aims to help the state of California tackle its drought-induced water crisis using satellite technology to measure groundwater levels. Famiglietti, who is also the founding director of the new UC Center for Hydrologic Modeling, has called for more investment in hydrologic prediction, observation and research to keep the taps flowing.  


Famiglietti recently made headlines when he and NASA scientists discovered that groundwater levels in California's Central Valley and northern India are receding at an alarming rate.


Story: Kathryn Bold, University Communications
Photo: Daniel A. Anderson, University Communications


Toxic Tides


Toxic Tides

Sunny Jiang, Ph.D., a professor of civil and environmental engineering studying pollution in Orange County's coastal waters, recently took an in-depth look at how swimming and surfing in the ocean can make people sick.


She and a team of graduate students charted incidents of poor water quality at Southern California beaches over a 10-year period and the number of ocean-related illnesses reported at the Surfrider Foundation website during the same timeframe. Each graph looked like a series of waves, and when the two were overlapped, their peaks and valleys matched up perfectly.


Story: Kathryn Bold, University Communications
Photo:  Daniel A. Anderson, University Communications



No Mere Pipe Dream

No Mere Pipedream

Maria Feng, Ph.D., professor of civil and environmental engineering, is leading a UC Irvine engineering team to build a prototype robot that could repair and retrofit aging water pipes by applying a tough reinforcement material around their interiors and eliminate the need for costly excavation or replacement.

The public-private partnership also comprises Fibrwrap Construction Inc., a pioneer in the trenchless application of advanced composites for structural renovation, and Fyfe Company LLC, a global leader in the development of fiber-reinforced polymers for civil infrastructure rehabilitation. The $17.6 million robot project will receive $8.5 million over five years from the National Institute of Standards & Technology's very competitive Technology Innovation Program (TIP), which supports high-risk, high-reward research addressing critical national needs, such as infrastructure monitoring and repair.

Story: Tom Vasich, University Communications
Photo: Steve Zylius / University Communications

Trashing the OceanTrashing the Oceans

On a clear spring day at Crystal Cove State Park, Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor William C. Cooper, Ph.D., and undergraduate Tova Handelman sift through a mound of seaweed and sand, oblivious to the curious stares of beachgoers. They're too busy studying trash.


"Look at all this plastic!" says Cooper, picking out a pellet no bigger than a grain of rice from his growing pile. "This is a 'nurdle.' They're used to make plastic products. They shouldn't be on the beach, but if you look closely, they're all over."

Kathryn Bold, University Communications
Photo: Daniel A. Anderson, University Communications

CEE Paper Published in Physical Review Letters
Veronica Nieves 

Veronica Nieves, Ph.D., a civil and environmental engineering postdoctoral scholar who was awarded a Balsells Fellowship in 2009, had her paper "Maximum Entropy Distributions of Scale-Invariant Processes" published in Physical Review Letters (PRL). Nieves' research for the paper is in Visiting Professor Rafael L. Bras' research group.

Nieves, who defended her Ph.D. in 2008 at the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, has been working with Bras and Jingfeng Wang, Ph.D., an associate researcher, for almost a year on an Army Research Office-sponsored project entitled, "Using the Maximum Entropy Principle as a Unifying Theory for Characterization and Sampling of Multi-scaling Processes in Hydrometeorology".




Distinguished Professor Soroosh Sorooshian Earns Multiple HonorsSoroosh Sorooshian

Soroosh Sorooshian, Ph.D., distinguished professor of civil and environmental en gineering and Earth system science, was named an honorary professor at Beijing Normal University.  Sorooshian was honored for his contributions to hydrometeorology and hydroclimatology and water resources engineering. 

He was also elected as an Associate Fellow of TWAS, the academy of sciences for the developing world, at its 21st General Meeting in Hyderabad, India, on Oct. 19.  Associate Fellows are scientists who live and work in developed countries, have made contributions to their fields of science that meet internationally accepted standards of excellence, and, have distinguished themselves in efforts to promote science in developing countries.

On December 5, Sorooshian received the 4th Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water Resources Management and Protection. 



Jasper Vrugt

Assistant Professor Jasper Vrugt Awarded Prestigious Macelwane Medal and 2010 Young Outstanding Scientist Award


Jasper Vrugt, Ph.D, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, was one of three young scientists to receive the highly coveted Macelwane Medal from the American Geophysical Union (AGU).  Vrugt was recognized for his numerous contributions in the areas of surface and vadose zone hydrology and hydrometeorology, and will also become an AGU Fellow in the process.

He was additionaly given the 2010 Young Outstanding Scientist Award from the Hydrology Section of the European Geophysical Union.  This award recognizes scientific achievements made by young scientists in any field of the geosciences within seven years of completing their Ph.D. degree.  Vrugt was highlighted for his development of general-purpose algorithms and numerical approaches that attempt to analyze the discrepancy between model predictions and actual observations to improve the theory, understanding and predictability of environmental systems.



Professor Stephen Ritchie Receives Frank M. Masters Transportation Engineering Award from ASCE
 Steve Ritchie
Stephen Ritchie, Ph.D., professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Irvine has been awarded the prominent Frank M. Masters Transportation Engineering Award for 2010 from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The award recognizes a member of the Society for the best example of innovative or noteworthy planning, design or construction of transportatio n facilities. Ritchie's award citation reads, "For his innovative work in the development and application of new technologies in transportation engineering," which was presented in October 2010 at the ASCE Annual Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ritchie studies transportation systems engineering, and is specifically interested in advanced traffic management and control systems, the development and application of emerging technologies in transportation engineering, and modeling greenhouse gas and pollutant emissions from transportat
ion systems.



Assistant Professor Farzin Zareian and Undergraduate Student Honored by ESCFarzin Zareian

Assistant Professor Farzin Zareian, Ph.D. was one of five faculty members honored by The Henry Samueli School of Engineering's Engineering Student Council (ESC) at its annual Engineering Awards Banquet during the National Engineers Week celebration last February.  ESC also named civil and environmental engineering major Andrew Sidor as one of five undergraduate students of the year.

Nominations were made by engineering students, faculty and staff, and the winners were selected by the Engineering Presidents' Council of the ESC, which consists of the presidents of engineering student organizations on campus.


Prof. ShinozukaMasanobu Shinozuka, Ph.D., joined  a World Bank-coordinated study team (ImageCat/GEO-CAN team) to develop methods that allow rapid identification of seismic damage using  satellite, aerial and land-based remote sensing technology with a special focus on the disasters caused by two major earthquakes that occurred this year: a magnitude 7.0 quake in Haiti on Jan. 13; and a magnitude 8.8 quake in Chile on Feb. 27.

Shinozuka organized a mini-symposium session on the "Uncertainty in Bridge Damageability Modeling" at the Fifth International Conference on Bridge Maintenance, Safety and Management held in Philadelphia on July 11-15, 2010. Shinozuka's group presented four papers in this session, which were also published in the conference proceedings.

In June, Shinozuka celebrated his 80th birthday with over 100 attendees, consisting of friends and former students, at Rhodes Island, Greece, in conjunction with the 6th International Conference in Computational Stochastic Mechanics, in which seventy-five papers were presented.

Shinozuka also gave a keynote lecture at the 3rd International Tsunami Field Symposium that took place on April 10-11, 2010 in Sendai, Japan. There were approximately forty papers presented at this symposium, most of which reported on tsunamis induced by the 2009 earthquakes in Chile.


Ayman Mosallam, Ph.D., servA.Mosallamed as one of the four organizers for the 6th International Engineering and Construction Conference under the sponsorship of the American Society of Civil  Engineers (ASCE Construction Institute), held on June 28-30, 2010 in Cairo, Egypt. Mosallam edited with three other co-editors the proceedings of the conference entitled the "Advances in Affordable Housing and Green Construction," which consists of more than 1,000 pages. The conference was celebrated as an international success covering all fields of green construction.



Professors Maria Feng and Masanobu Shinozuka were selected as members representing the U.S. in the Trilateral U.S., China and Japan research team formed in 2010 to develop a long-term monitoring system utilizing the most advanced technologies for the conservation of historical Mogao Caves in the Dunhuang and Longyou Grottoes near Shanghai in China. 

STUDENT HONORS               

Hanoz Santoke Awarded 2010 ASEI Kalpana Chawla ScholarshipHanoz Santoke

Hantoz Santoke
, a fifth-year Ph.D. student in CEE, has been awarded the 2010 American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI) Kalpana Chawla Scholarship.

Santoke, a California native, researches pharmaceutical compounds in the environment. These compounds have been detected in both surface and ground water in places ranging from the United States to Italy to India, due to incomplete metabolization of prescription medications in the human body or discharge from industrial facilities or homes.  Since conventional treatment processes are ineffective at removing these compounds from water, newer techniques known as advanced oxidation processes are being evaluated. 



CEE Graduate Student Receives Public Impact Distinguished Fellowship

Behrouz ShafeiBehrouz Shafei, a Ph.D. candidate under the supervision of Masanobu Shinozuka, Ph.D., distinguished professor of civil and environmental engineering, received the 2010-11 Public Impact Distinguished Fellowship from the UC Irvine Graduate Division. The Public Impact Fellowship highlights and supports doctoral students whose current research has the potential for substantial impact in the public sphere.  Shafei was one of only four UC Irvine graduate students to receive this prestigious $10,000 fellowship, which recognizes his outstanding academic achievement and contribution to improving the risk and vulnerability assessment of the nation's critical lifeline systems.


Five Undergraduate Students Awarded UROP FellowshipsPeter the Anteater (Left)

Five undergraduate students in the laboratory of Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor William Cooper, Ph.D., were appointed Fellows by the UC Irvine Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) Faculty Advisory Board for the 2009-10 academic year.

Grant Gontarski received $600 in support of his proposed research project, "Fate of Endorcrine System Disrupting Chemicals in the Environment."

Tova Handelman was awarded $500 in support of his proposed research project, "The Plastic Ocean: A survey of Marine Debris Found at Crystal Cove State Park and How Land-Based Plastics are Polluting the World's Oceans."
Christy A. Loo was awarded $600 in support of her proposed research project, "Method Development for the Investigation of Photochemial Reactivity of Dissolved Organic Matter and its Dependency on Oxygen," which will be supervised by both Cooper and Michael Gonsior, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher in the CEE Department.
Brian D. Nguyen and Francis Rodriguez together received $750 in support of their proposed research project, "Free Radical Degradation of Anti-Depressant Pharmaceuticals."

ALUMNI NOTESGateway and Arch


Stephen Esaki, who graduated with a B.S. degree in civil and environmental  engineering at UC Irvine and went on to get his M.S. degree at Stanford University, is currently in Tete, Mozambique, where he is volunteering with the Mennonite Central Committee designing and overseeing the construction of dams.


Dan Howes, Ph.D., who graduated from civil and environmental engineering with a Ph.D. degree in June, has been appointed as a senior irrigation engineer at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in the Irrigation Training and Research Center housed in the BioResource and Agricultural Engineering department. Howes teaches irrigation theory, drip irrigation, irrigation design, and water wells and pumps. His current interests include open channel flow measurement utilizing acoustic Doppler velocity meters, modeling crop evapotranspiration requirements, utilizing remote sensing and GIS to estimate actual crop evapotranspiration for large scale projects, and irrigation district modernization.


Azadeh Alipour, Ph.D., accepted a position at URS Corporation as a structural design engineer
in the Bridge Design Division. Alipour received a Ph.D. degree in June 2010 under the advisement of Professor Masanobu Shinozuka.


Debasis Karmakar, Ph.D, accepted a position as a structural engineer at M&H Energy Services in Houston, Texas. Karmakar served as a postdoctoral scholar under Professor Masanobu Shinozuka after receiving a Ph.D. degree on June 2009, also under Professor Shinozuka's guidance.



University of California, Irvine
The Henry Samueli School of Engineering
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
E4130 Engineering Gateway
Irvine, CA 92697-2175

Phone: (949) 824-5333
Fax:    (949) 824-2117