Civil Engineering welcomes newest faculty members

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 | By Lindsay Cashin

UBC Civil Engineering is pleased to announce that three new faculty members have joined the Department. The teaching and research activities of Alex Bigazzi, Steven Weijs, and Cristina Zanotti are well underway for the fall term.

Alex Bigazzi

Dr. Alex Bigazzi, jointly appointed in Civil Engineering and SCARP, is the newest member of the transportation group. He is instructing CIVL 586 Urban Transportation System Analysis this term, and CIVL 583 Urban Engineering Methods and Models next term. Furthermore, he aims to bring a new course on transportation emissions and air quality to UBC in 2016-2017.

Dr. Bigazzi’s research interests in transportation include active travel modes (particularly bicycling), vehicle emissions and air quality, and impacts on health; and he sees UBC-Vancouver as the ideal setting to continue this research. “UBC is a living lab,” he observes, “and more broadly, I see the whole city as a living lab for transportation engineering. It’s a multimodal city, and here at UBC, there’s some really innovative transportation research going on.”

Active transportation is more than just a research theme for Dr. Bigazzi. Cycling is a way of life for him: he commutes to campus, moves through the city, and vacations by bike. He has toured four continents this way, and most recently explored his new home province by cycling around Vancouver Island. Prior to joining UBC Civil Engineering, Dr. Bigazzi completed his PhD, Master's, and undergraduate degrees in engineering at Portland State University. He also holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Miami, and spent five years as a professional jazz saxophonist prior to entering engineering.

Contact Dr. Bigazzi via email at abigazzi@civil.ubc.ca.

Dr. Steven Weijs

Dr. Steven Weijs has joined the hydrotechnical group, and is now instructing CIVL 418 Engineering Hydrology. In the upcoming summer term, he will be teaching a course for the new UBC Master of Engineering Leadership in Integrated Water Management.

Dr. Weijs’s research looks at information flows and decision-making related to hydrological systems. "Hydrological systems are so diverse and complex, that choosing what to measure and what to model is far from trivial." He continues: "My research addresses this problem from the perspective of maximizing the information content that is channeled towards important water management decisions." One aspect of this has been his work on citizen observatories, wherein members of the public are engaged in measuring quantities of water in urban hydrological systems, using special devices that can, for example, be attached to their smartphones. “Hydrological systems are spatially variable…especially in cities,” he says. To measure them effectively, “we need to be creative. That’s where citizens might come in.” Dr. Weijs notes a citizen observatory that successfully measured air quality in Europe, and envisions something similar for the measurement of hydrological systems on UBC’s campus.

Prior to joining UBC Civil Engineering, Dr. Weijs held postdoctoral fellowships at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, preceded by PhD, Master's, and undergraduate studies at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. He also worked in engineering consulting for two years during his time in Delft.

Contact Dr. Weijs via email at steven.weijs@civil.ubc.ca.

Dr. Cristina Zanotti

Dr. Zanotti is the newest member of the materials group, and is instructing CIVL 420 Concrete Technology this term and the lab-based CIVL 422 Project Based Learning in Civil Engineering Materials next term. She is excited for the students in CIVL 422 to have the opportunity to complete small, hands-on research projects that will bring what they learned in CIVL 320 and other fourth year classes to life: “Students will have the opportunity to go in the lab, learn how to make concrete, play with different types of material – they will love it. They want to see what they learn!”

Dr. Zanotti’s research is in the area of repair and rehabilitation of historical heritage, modern buildings and infrastructure, and in the near future she’ll be focusing extensively on the durability of repairs, as well as lower carbon footprint alternatives to ordinary concrete that can be applied to repair. “There is so much investment in repair, especially in Canada - and sustainability is an important topic,” she notes, adding that these themes will be integrated into her teaching as well.

Prior to joining UBC Civil Engineering, Dr. Zanotti completed her PhD, Master's, and undergraduate degrees at the University of Brescia in Italy. While working on her PhD, she had her first experience at UBC Civil Engineering as a visiting research student. She first joined the Department as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 2012. Outside civil engineering, Dr. Zanotti is working toward her blue belt in mixed martial arts.

Contact Dr. Zanotti via email at czanotti@civil.ubc.ca.

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