CEE Graduate Seminar Series
Fridays 11:00AM to 12:20PM // Gregg Hall (PH 100)
Our seminars are open to the public. Students registered for seminars will receive details via email.
February 3: Jeremy Bassis - University of Michigan
A tale of two cities: Climate resilience and adaptation in a changing world
University of Michigan
As climate change accelerates, there is growing concern that our cities and communities will experience environmental stresses far beyond what they have been designed for. Critically, sea level rise, combined with increased risk from extreme precipitation, hurricanes, and other climate disasters, requires coastal communities urgently develop adaptation plans that address current and future vulnerabilities. At the same time, communities face disparate vulnerabilities, with lower-income and marginalized communities already facing disproportionate risks associated with climate change and flooding.
The scientific challenge is that many key physical processes that control future climate scenarios remain poorly understood, leading to a range of climate and sea level rise scenarios that can confound planning and adaptation efforts. In this talk, I will examine the challenges in producing usable and actionable climate and sea level rise projections through the lens of two very different American cities: Houston, Texas and Detroit, Michigan. l will talk about how the history, geography, and geology preconditions and influences adaptation and mitigation efforts in these communities. Moreover, I will illustrate how local history and vulnerabilities can overwhelm and overshadow uncertainties associated with our climate and sea level projections. Examples from recent work, however, show that scientists and engineers do have a critical role to play because longer-term adaptation plans require an interdisciplinary fusion of local knowledge, climate knowledge, urban planning, history, and social sciences to drive decision-making. Successfully engaging in these local adaptation efforts requires new academic models that break down traditional silos and walls between disciplines.
My career is the result of a long series of accidents. I started out as an undergrad studying math and physics. I found my way into Earth Sciences when I misread my course schedule and accidentally dropped into a class offered in atmospheric science.
This ended up being way more interesting than whatever elective I had actually signed up for. I eventually found my way into a PhD program at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. My advisor was on sabbatical when I arrived, and while puttering around, I met a new faculty who offered me a role in a research expedition to Antarctica. This initiated an unexpected switch to polar sciences for the rest of my graduate studies.
My work in polar sciences carried me from San Diego to the University of Chicago and now the University of Michigan, where I am a professor in the Department of Climate and Space Science and Engineering. Most of my original work uses a mixture of computational work, fieldwork and satellite imagery to understand the fundamental processes and mechanisms by which ice sheets and glaciers flow and fail in response to climate change. However, my recent work has increasingly evolved to focus more on interdisciplinary approaches that examine the role of science and academia in promoting equity in climate adaptation. These days I find myself spending as much time pondering rain gardens, urban flooding, and mixed storm-water-sewer systems as I do ice sheets.
February 17: Sarah Fakhreddine - Carnegie Mellon
Unforeseen Threats to Water Quality During Managed Aquifer Recharge
Population growth and climate variability highlight the need to enhance freshwater security and diversify water supplies. Subsurface storage of water in depleted aquifers is increasingly used globally to alleviate temporal disparities in water supply and demand often caused by variability of wet and dry periods. Managed aquifer recharge (MAR) stores excess water supplies during wet periods via infiltration into shallow underlying aquifers or direct injection into deep aquifers for recovery during dry periods.
While MAR projects can enhance local water availability, introduction of recharge water alters the native biogeochemical and hydrological conditions of the receiving aquifer, potentially mobilizing toxic, naturally occurring (geogenic) contaminants from sediments into groundwater where they pose a much larger threat to human and ecosystem health. Arsenic poses a particular challenge at MAR sites due to its ubiquity in subsurface sediments and toxicity at trace concentrations. A strong understanding of the underlying biogeochemical and hydrological processes can be used to design engineering approaches that protect water quality and ensure the long-term viability of water management strategies like MAR.
Sarah Fakhreddine is an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. As an environmental engineer and geochemist, her research focuses on developing a diverse portfolio of water management solutions that holistically account for issues of both water quantity and quality. Her work examines how climate and water management strategies impact complex biogeochemical and hydrological processes in order to protect water quality for human and ecosystem health.
Prior to joining CMU, she completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in sustainable water resources at the University of Texas at Austin and served as a fellow with the Environmental Defense Fund working on implementation of sustainable groundwater management practices in the Western United States. She holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Earth System Science and M.S. in Environmental Engineering and Science from Stanford University.
March 17: Hugo Villasante - University of Michigan
Equitable Dynamic Systems Engineering
University of Michigan
Addressing the causes and finding solutions to the unequal distribution of societal resources requires a multidisciplinary and cooperative effort with all stakeholders involved. Recent advances in sensing and actuation in social systems underscore the need for a framework to develop evidence-guided data-based policies in dynamic cyber-physical human systems aimed at improving social justice outcomes. This talk will present control theory and engineering strategies in social systems to empower people and improve their well-being. This work expands multimedia processing, stability theory, and controllability analysis of social systems. It also contributes to basic and applied behavioral and social science via interdisciplinary collaborations in diverse domains such as poverty, mental health, and inclusive education.
Hugo Gonzalez Villasanti is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His current work is centered around equitable policy design for dynamic sociotechnical systems that support child development.
Previously, he was a postdoctoral scholar at the Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy at The Ohio State University. He received his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from The Ohio State University. His previous work focused on control theory and engineering for financial and mental health equity.
He served in local and international humanitarian engineering projects as a member of the IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee. He has received the Presidential Fellowship from the Graduate School at The Ohio State University.
March 24: Nakhiah Goulbourne - University of Michigan
Entangled and Crosslinked: How Polymer Chains Deform
University of Michigan
One fundamental question in polymer physics concerns how to connect polymer chemistry to the micro-scale polymer network configuration and in turn, connect the polymer chain deformation to the macroscopic mechanical response. Such a relationship would provide a valuable tool for pre screening different polymer chemistries for desired mechanical behavior. Whilst several advances have been made, this remains an open question. To link microscale deformation and network properties with the macroscopic properties of elasticity and viscoelasticity requires an understanding of how different polymer networks deform.
In this talk, we describe a physics-based model of nonaffine chain deformation, the nonaffine network model, and discuss the use of coarse grain molecular dynamics simulations to experiment with how different polymer networks deform. Using the primitive path to quantify the extent of intermolecular interactions and entanglements that a chain experiences, we simulate networks with a wide range of network topologies and track chain movements during deformations. To conclude, I will discuss both the broader applicability of our model to successfully describe the macroscopic behavior of crosslinked polymers undergoing large deformations, as well as describe how primitive path analysis could be used to predict environmental degradation trends of plastic marine debris.
Dr. Nakhiah Goulbourne is Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She received her BA degree in Physics from Middlebury College, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University. She received the NSF CAREER award in 2008. Prior to joining the University of Michigan in 2009, she was Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Over the last 15 years she has built a diverse research portfolio that is reflective of her general interest in mechanics of soft materials. From 2018 – 2022, she served as NSF program director for the Mechanics of Materials and Structures program (MoMS) within the Division of Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation. In 2021, she received the National Science Foundation Director’s Award for Superior Accomplishment. She is the foundational lead and primary author of the new Boosting Research Ideas for Transformative and Equitable Advances in Engineering (BRITE) solicitation. She initiated and led the EcoManufacturing thrust of the NSF-wide Future Manufacturing program, and served on several other NSF Working Groups including: Emerging Frontiers Research Initiative (EFRI), Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Preparedness (PIPP), Future of Work-Human Technology Frontier Program (FW-HTF). In 2020, she spent a brief stint as Program Director in the Convergence Accelerator Office. She initiated and helped develop the CMMI Game Changers Academy (CGCA), a professional development program providing faculty with skills to better identify high-risk-high reward research ideas and enable a fair and equitable proposal review process. She served as Chair of the Engineering Directorate Broadening Participation and Racial Equity Working Group, which developed recommendations for the Engineering Directorate to create opportunities to enable the broad engineering community to create a culture of equity
March 31: Maureen Boyce - Good Growth Capital
Engineering: the start of many career paths - including investing
Co-Founder and Managing Partner
Good Growth Capital
I will give a background of why I chose Engineering at Carnegie Mellon, and my career path after graduation. I will talk about the various experiences I gained in graduate school, Peace Corps, strategy work at Bain & Co, IBM, Ignition Ventures then Good Growth Capital. I'll describe some of the companies Good Growth has invested in within the GreenTech space.
Maureen is responsible for leading the GreenTech team at Good Growth Capital, and leads sourcing out of MIT and the New England community. She is an active member of MIT’s Angel community, sourcing deals from the groups in Boston, New York, and California. Maureen is a board member at Liminal Insights, Radical Plastics, Eden GeoTech, Aralez Bio, and is an observer at Leuko, Blue Ocean Gear and Encora Therapeutics.
Prior to founding Good Growth Capital, Maureen was the co-founder & COO of Ignition Ventures, a serial entrepreneurship company which invested in multiple tech startups. At Ignition, the team found transformative technologies, and helped create the strategy, raise capital and complete acquisition for multiple CTOs out of MIT, Harvard University, Cambridge University and Columbia University. Maureen started her career in strategy consulting at Bain & Company, where she was a consultant and team leader in the Boston and Sydney offices. She then became an Associate Partner at IBM’s Strategy practice, serving as IBM Head of Global Strategy Thought Leadership for four industries. Maureen has been a Mentor for MIT’s Sandbox Innovation accelerator since its launch in January 2016, and has also been a part-time Consultant to Sandbox to help with its own growth strategy, as it grew from 40 startups a year to 400+ startups each semester. Maureen worked as a Civil Engineer for the US Peace Corps in Fiji, designing and helping to build small water systems.
Maureen received her BS in Civil Engineering, magna cum laude, from Carnegie Mellon, a PhD & MS in Engineering from MIT, and an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management. Maureen has also been a Lecturer at MIT, and received the highest award for MIT alumni for her service to the Institute, the Great Dome Award. Maureen has traveled to 55 countries and lived in four, including more than seven years of international work experience in Asia.
April 21: Sheryl Staub French - University of British Columbia
Sheryl Staub French
University of British Columbia
Dr. Staub-French is a Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering in the Faculty of Applied Science. She is Director of the BIM TOPiCS Lab where she leads inter-disciplinary research focused on developing methods and tools to support the digital delivery of sustainable building construction projects through effective and collaborative use of building information modeling (BIM). She has published over 100 papers in leading journals and conferences on BIM and related topics. Her lab has made significant contributions in developing BIM guidelines and best practices; collaborating with industry and government to advance technology transfer; and developing tools to support virtual design and digital delivery.
As the first Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in the Faculty of Applied Science, Dr. Staub-French is a strong leader and advocate in advancing EDI in engineering and leading the Faculty’s EDI initiatives. She received her BS in Civil Engineering from Santa Clara University and her MS and PhD from Stanford University.