Civil engineering department adds three new faculty

The Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University welcomed a tenured faculty member and two tenure-track faculty members this year. Dr. Bjorn Birgisson joins as TEES Distinguished Research Professor and director of the Center for Infrastructure Renewal, Dr. Ali Mostafavi and Dr. Stephanie Paal join as assistant professors. 

Birgisson WebPrior to joining Texas A&M, Birgisson was a chaired professor of transport science, pro vice-chancellor and the executive dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Aston University. Before Aston, Birgisson served as the vice president for research at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, as well as the chaired professor and head of the Division of Highway and Railway Engineering.

While with KTH, Birgisson created the Department of Transport Science, blending technology, systems and policy assessment in education and research. His specific areas of specialization include pavement analysis and design, the material science and mechanics of construction materials, non-destructive testing, life cycle analysis and risk assessment.

Birgisson was a member of the faculty at the University of Florida, where he earned his tenure in 2004, co-established the Center for Pavements and Infrastructure Materials and the Florida Center for Pavement Excellence, both in 2001. Between 2006 and 2010, Birgisson led the development of the U.S. National Roadmap for Nanotechnology for Concrete-Based Materials.

Ali mostafaviMostafavi joins the department after having been an assistant professor in the Florida International University College of Engineering and Computing. He received his Ph.D. in civil engineering, and a master’s in industrial administration from the Krannert School of Management-Purdue University.

His research focuses on a system-of-systems paradigm that bridges the boundaries between complex systems science, network theory and civil infrastructure systems to address sustainability and resilience challenges. He has been a principal investigator on multiple research projects funded by different agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), Construction Industry Institute (CII) and Miami-Dade Expressway. He is also a member of the Infrastructure Resilience Division of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the Academic Leadership Committee of CII.

He has received multiple awards and honors for outstanding research, teaching and service. His recent awards include the CII Distinguished Professor Award, Engineering News Record’s Top 20 under 40 in the Southeast Region and the Best Paper Award of the 2015 ASCE Computing in Civil Engineering Conference.

Stephanie PaalPaal joins the department after having been a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. She received her doctorate and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Georgia Tech and her bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering from The University of Texas at Austin.

Her research interests lie in the study of visualization and advanced technology-based solutions to address infrastructure related challenges. More specifically her interests are related to infrastructure condition assessment, computing technologies and visualization in civil engineering, sensing and data collection for civil infrastructure, system of systems resiliency and knowledge extraction and management.

She has had extensive experience in creating machine vision methods to automatically assess infrastructure in both post-disaster and routine scenarios. These methods can be used to provide real-time and quantitative assessment of buildings in the damaged state.

Contributing author: Ryan Terry