February 2016 Newsletter


What’s new in CEE?

It’s time for graduate recruiting

CEE received more than 130 applications for ME, MS, and PhD degrees in the most recent admissions cycle, which closed on January 15. Since then, faculty has been hard at work determining which candidates would be the best fit to join our department. These individuals will receive their acceptances starting this week, which means it’s time to start planning our recruitment activities. 

The SEAS Graduate Recruiting Weekend will be  Friday Feb 26 and Saturday Feb 27. On Friday, candidates will have a breakfast presentation from a SEAS Associate Dean, followed by meetings with individual CEE faculty members and lab tours in Thornton Hall from roughly 10 am to 12 pm. The candidates and their hosts will then have lunch, most likely at VTRC. The Graduate Research Symposium will be from 12:30 to 2 pm. The symposium will showcase the depth any vibrancy of our research program to the candidates and other visitors, but it will also constitute a competition. Accordingly, we will have several “celebrity” judges and cash prizes for the winners. Popular vote will be factored into the selection of the winners, so please plan to attend in order to support your friends and colleagues. Special thanks to all of our presenters including: Mohamad Alipor, Salwa Anam, Charles Burgis (co-presentign with Derek Henderson), Lian Cui, Sherif Daghash, Lizzie Engel, Kassie Grimes, Seongah Hong, Evelina Khakimova, Rob Klueger, Stacy Learn, Erin Robartes, Gail Moruza, Jeff Sadler, Bingrong Sun, and Buddy Wilkins.

Later in the day, the Graduate Engineering Student Council (GESC) will coordinate tours of the Grounds (3 pm and 4 pm) and a social event on the Corner (8 pm). They will also host trips to Monticello and Vertias Vineyard on Saturday during the day. They have asked for current volunteers to attend these events, to ask as hosts for the visitors and join in on the fun. Our department will also need volunteers to help transport the recruits, lead lab tours, meet with the students and share their expe Please email cee-graduate@virginia.edu if you would like to assist with in any departmental and/or GESC events. We gratefully acknowledge Courtney HillCharles Burgis, and PilJin Chun for agreeing to chair CEE’s recruitment activities for this year.

CEE was well represented (and well-dressed!) at the GESC Winter Formal this past weekend. From left: Sarah Bauer, Ankit Singh, Kassie Grimes, Courtney Hill, and Charles Burgis. CEE’s Sarah Bauer and Katie Nunnelly are both officers of the organization.

Where are they now? – Dr. Vivian Liu

This series features recent CEE graduate alumni, telling us in their own words about themselves and what they’ve been up to since leaving UVA.  This month’s featured alumna is Dr. Xiaowei (Vivian) Lui.

Where are you from, where did you do your undergraduate, and in what field?
I’m from Harbin China. I graduated from Tongji University located in Shanghai, with a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Environmental Engineering.

Who was your doctoral adviser, when did you graduate, and what was your dissertation topic?
Prof. Andres Clarens was my PhD adviser. I graduated in May 2014. My dissertation topic is ‘Climate Implications of Advanced Biofuels Produced from Algae’.

Where are you now, what is your title, and what are you working on? 
I’m now a postdoc researcher in Desert Research Institute, Reno campus. My research area is environmental analyses of renewable energy technologies, such as solar photovoltaic, bioenergy from woody biomass, etc. It is related to my dissertation.

What was your favorite part of the graduate experience and/or what do you miss most about UVA?
My favorite part of the graduate experience at UVA is the cutting-edge research being done by CEE faculty. Our faculty members stand at the forefront of the environmental field. I was fortunate to work on algae biofuels, which was very interesting to me.

What is your advice for current CEE graduate students?
My advice to current CEE graduate students in terms of finding jobs is to plan early and follow your interest.

Anything you’d like to share about yourself professionally and/or personally?
My recent solar PV paper was featured in my organization’s press release! You can read about it here. On a personal note, I’ve recently taking up skiing because of the proximity of Reno to many ski resorts around Lake Tahoe.

Dr. Vivian Lui graduated from CEE in 2014. She currently works at the Desert Research Institute (DRI).

CEE shines at TRB

Our faculty, graduate students, and research staff were extremely well-represented at the 95th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) in Washington, DC on January 10-14 of this year. UVA researchers altogether gave thirty-three presentations in various symposia. The TRB meeting is a yearly showcase for innovation in practice and research related to the transportation industry. This year’s meeting was attended by more than 12,000 transportation professionals from all over the world, collectively accounting for more than 5000 presentations in nearly 800 sessions. Presentations focused on topics ranging from transformation technologies to resilience to public health. This event is a valuable  experience for graduate students, because it provides a forum for the exchange of ideas between practitioners, researchers and policy-makers. It is also considered to be springboard for the development of sound transportation research and future practice. Congratulations to all who attended, especially the graduate students who gave posters or platform presentations!

Photos: (top) CEE faculty and research scientists; (middle) Professor Osman Ozbulut with his research group; (bottom) CEE graduate students giving platform and poster presentations.

Thanks to Dr. Emily Parkany and others for pictures and text.