Carnegie Mellon University

CEE Graduate Seminar Series

Fall 2022

Fridays, 11:50am-1:10pm via Zoom.

Our seminars are open to the public, please contact Randi Senchur for information. Students registered for seminars will receive details via email.

Theory, simulations, and machine learning for design and structural
characterization of macromolecular materials


Arthi Jayaraman
Centennial Term Professor for Excellence in Research and Teaching
Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
University of Delaware




Professor Arthi Jayaraman received her B.E (Honors) degree in Chemical Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, India in 2000. She received her Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from North Carolina State University in 2006, and from 2006-2008 conducted her postdoctoral research in the department of Materials Science and Engineering at University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign.

In August 2008, she joined the faculty of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at University of Colorado at Boulder, and held the position of Patten Assistant Professor. In August 2014, she joined the faculty at the University of Delaware as Associate professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering.

Her research expertise lies in development of theory and simulation techniques and application of these techniques to study polymer functionalized nanoparticles and polymer nanocomposites, and to design macromolecular materials for biomedical applications. Her research has been recognized with the APS Fellowship (2020) Dudley Saville Lectureship at Princeton University (2016), the AIChE COMSEF division Young Investigator Award (2013), ACS PMSE division Young Investigator (2014), University of Colorado Provost Faculty Achievement Award (2013), and Department of Energy (DOE)Early Career Research Award (2010).

Her teaching has been recognized with the University of Colorado outstanding undergraduate teaching award (2011) and University of Colorado outstanding graduate teaching award (2014) in Chemical and Biological Engineering.

Title: On the Joy of Building


Alejandro Gomez
Co-founder and CEO 


Building things is incredibly rewarding, especially if it involves delivering complex civil infrastructure projects. The delivery of infrastructure projects requires people with multiple skillsets and backgrounds to come together in a coordinated effort to successfully provide critical services to society (e.g., clean water, renewable energy, safe transportation, affordable housing, and more). 

Using his experience in a wide range of construction projects, Alejandro will discuss professional areas within infrastructure delivery that might not be obvious, but that are critical (e.g., policy, finance, environmental, conflict resolution, materials, technology). He’ll provide examples of their importance and the background of some of the people who lead these activities. 

He will share insights on emerging areas within design and construction that may provide new research and professional opportunities in the coming years. He’ll provide his perspective, as a startup founder, on building a business within these emerging areas. And will lay out arguments to encourage students to engage in hands-on, experiential learning as a way to prepare, and dare, to innovate.

He will close this discussion with arguments on why being part of project delivery teams can be a great starting career path for engineers. 


Alejandro is the co-founder and CEO of binni, a construction technology company focused on tunneling and concrete construction operations. He has been part of general contractor teams that delivered complex renewable energy, transportation, and hydraulic infrastructure projects in Latin and North America. He is a Fulbright Scholar, and during his time at CMU he earned a MS in Advanced Infrastructure Systems. His work at binni represents the intersection between his passion for construction and his deep interest in computing and technology.

CEE to Structural Engineer: My Job, Career, and Advice


Amelia W. Harris
Techincal Manager

My usual response to explaining my job is “I’m a structural engineer, I design bridges.” In this talk, I will go beyond that explanation and discuss what I do in my job and how a degree in CEE can lead you to this career. I’ll describe the path of a bridge project and highlight a couple of projects that I’ve been involved with. I’ll discuss the skills (besides math and spreadsheets) that are invaluable to any career in engineering, and I’ll offer some advice on what you can do right now, as a student, to prepare for a career in this field. Finally, I’ll talk about my employer, Benesch, including services and culture.  


Amelia Harris is a Technical Manager with Alfred Benesch and Company in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania. She received her bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University in 2006. She received her master’s degree (2008) and PhD (2009) in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. Her research focused on structural health monitoring and developing a sensor to detect acoustic emissions. After graduation, Amelia worked as a structural engineer at Benesch in the Chicago, Illinois office for several years before moving back to the Pittsburgh area. Her experience as a structural engineer includes concrete and steel bridge design, complex structural analysis, and finite and element modeling. Amelia is a registered professional engineer in Pennsylvania and Illinois. She enjoys mentoring young engineers and learning about new software for bridge analysis and modeling. She is the chair of the Work Life Committee at Benesch and an active member of the WTS Pittsburgh chapter.


Title: Treatment of Stormwater Runoff using Activated Carbon Derived from Used Coffee Grounds


Jessica Ray
Sylvester Assistant Professor
Civil & Environmental Engineering
Washington University


Stormwater runoff is a major component of the urban water supply.
Increased rainfall frequency due to global climate change impacts accompanied by growing
population and urbanization in cities has resulted in higher volumes of stormwater runoff
entering surface waters.

Unfortunately, contact of stormwater runoff with engineered surfaces
(e.g., buildings, roadways) results in elevated concentrations of trace contaminants conveyed by
runoff to ecosystems which pose risks to human and environmental health. Green stormwater
infrastructure is a cost- and space-efficient approach to promote local groundwater recharge
and mitigate high runoff flows over roadways; however, these systems have limited ability to
remove trace contaminants in stormwater runoff.

To enhance contaminant removal in green
stormwater infrastructure, reactive engineered materials can be amended to passively treat
infiltrating runoff. This talk will highlight our work developing a sustainably sourced activated
carbon produced from pyrolysis of used coffee grounds toward treatment of urban stormwater
runoff. Data will be presented regarding physicochemical characterization of the activated
carbon, removal of representative trace organic compounds in urban runoff, and activated
carbon modifications to target particularly recalcitrant trace organics.


Professor Jessica Ray (she/her) is the Robert and Irene Sylvester assistant professor in
the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Washington. Ray
received her B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis in
2009. Upon graduation, Ray remained at Washington University in St. Louis to obtain a M.S.
degree (2010, funded by the NSF GK-12 Graduate Research Fellowship) and a Ph.D. in
Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering (2015, funded by the EPA Students to Achieve
Results (STAR) Fellowship).

During her Ph.D., Ray employed surface chemistry techniques to investigate interfacial reactions of nanomaterials in water. Ray then moved to California as a Miller Institute Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. As a postdoc, Ray developed low-cost polymer-clay composites to treat urban stormwater. At the University of Washington, Ray is continuing to develop and characterize new composite materials for selective contaminant removal in water, for enhanced degradation of persistent contaminants, and for recovery of valuable species in waste streams. In recognition of her novel, interdisciplinary research addressing urban water supply and sustainability, Chemical & Engineering News named Ray one of the “Talented 12” honorees for 2020.

Are Uber and Lyft good for cities? Research findings on the traffic, environmental, equity, economic, and mobility implications of the ridesourcing revolution.


Jeremy Michalek
Engineering & Public Policy
Mechanical Engineering
Carnegie Mellon University


This seminar will summarize key findings from recent and ongoing Carnegie
Mellon research about the implications of transportation network companies, like Uber
and Lyft. Prof. Michalek will summarize findings about the effects these ridesourcing
services have on U.S. cities, including effects on traffic, the environment, equity,
economics, and mobility. The seminar will address implications for travelers and for
public policy.


Jeremy Michalek is a Professor of Engineering and Public Policy, Professor of
Mechanical Engineering, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering (by
courtesy), and Director of the Vehicle Electrification Group at Carnegie Mellon. He
studies technical, economic, environmental, equity and policy issues with transportation
and energy, including electric vehicles and new mobility. He has briefed members of
Congress, federal agencies, and state governments on policy implications of his
research findings and his work is frequently cited in media outlets such as the New
York Times and NPR.

Reimagining the Role of Engineering Through Advocacy-based Air Pollution Research


Cesunica Ivey
Assistant Professor
Civil & Environmental Engineering
UC Berkeley


Traditional engineering research is postured as objective and unbiased. However, core beliefs and values shape our approaches for developing engineering solutions to grand challenges.

In this talk, I explore a new paradigm for engineering research, specifically air pollution exposure and mitigation research. I provide examples from the Air Quality Modeling and Exposure Lab’s recent work in inland Southern California. I also posit new ideals for carrying out impactful community-facing research as we, as engineers, are called to facilitate a just climate transition. 


Dr. Cesunica Ivey is an assistant professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of California, Berkeley and the PI of the Air Quality Modeling and Exposure Lab. She was formerly an assistant professor in the Chemical and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of California, Riverside. She earned her Ph.D. in environmental engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2016. She was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Physics at the University of Nevada Reno through 2017 and was also a visiting scientist at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in the spring of 2018. Her research centers on atmospheric modeling, source apportionment, data assimilation, exposure monitoring, and environmental justice applications. Dr. Ivey was recently honored as part of the C&EN Talented 12 Class of 2021