Environmental Systems Engineering

UBC Civil In The Media – Sewage plant samples show Omicron infections dropping in Lower Mainland

Assistant Professor Ryan Ziels talks about his research on detecting COVID in wastewater.

UBC Civil In The Media – B.C. Flooding and Landslides

UBC Civil faculty spoke to media to offer their analysis and expertise on the challenges ahead with infrastructure rebuilding.

Assistant Professor Ryan Ziels develops new method for near-perfect accuracy in portable DNA sequencing

Researchers can now eliminate almost all errors produced by a widely used portable DNA sequencer, thanks to a new method developed by UBC Civil Engineering Assistant Professor Dr. Ryan Ziels. This advancement will potentially enable scientists out in the field or in smaller labs to study microorganisms, such as the SARS-CoV-2 virus, much more accurately […]

Dr. Jongho Lee receives NFRF grant to develop artificial trees for extreme weather-resilient cities

UBC Civil Engineering Assistant Professor Jongho Lee has received the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) grant to develop a tri-layer film that mimics natural trees’ water management function – a technology that will help build extreme weather-resilient cities. A naturally effective dewatering instrument, a tree transpires 97% of the water absorbed by its roots […]

U-WatR initiative led by Dr. Pierre Bérubé receives $1.6 million in CFI funding

The Used-Water to Resources (U-WatR) initiative, led by Civil Engineering professor Pierre Bérubé, has been awarded $1.6 million through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s 2020 Innovation Fund competition. The competition, which funds up to 40 per cent of a project’s eligible infrastructure costs, aims to “enhance and optimize the capacity of institutions and research communities […]

Dr. Sara Beck brings global collaboration to UBC Civil Engineering

The Department of Civil Engineering adds to our roster of world-class researchers and educators and welcomes Assistant Professor Sara Beck to the Environmental Engineering research group. Dr. Beck joins the Department after completing post-docs at the University of Colorado and Eawag, the Swiss Federal institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, opportunities that followed a Fulbright at the […]

U-WatR initiative led by Dr. Pierre Bérubé receives $4 million in CFI funding

Update on June 24, 2021: Total amount for U-WatR CFI Innovation Fund has been awarded at $4M, which consists of funding from Canada Foundation for Innovation, BC Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF), and various sources.  The Used-Water to Resources (U-WatR) initiative, led by Civil Engineering professor Pierre Bérubé, has been awarded $1.6 million through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s […]

UBC Civil Engineering professor Ryan Ziels to develop wastewater testing for COVID-19

Update: July 9, 2020, The team’s research, titled “ Expanding the wastewater-based epidemiology toolkit for monitoring COVID-19 community transmission in Canada,” has received the NSERC Alliance COVID-19 grant for one year. NSERC is providing up to $15 million in total support to stimulate collaborations between university academic researchers and the public and not-for-profit sectors, and industry […]

Dr. Jongho Lee featured in The Guardian for novel desalination process inspired by mangrove trees

Dr. Jongho Lee, an assistant professor in UBC’s Department of Civil Engineering, recently published his new study on a clean alternative to clearing up flood water in Science Advances Magazine. The researcher was inspired by how mangrove trees, which like other trees, employ a water transport system that can evaporate moisture from their leaves. This process […]

Professor Donald Mavinic interviewed by Star Vancouver about new approaches to Canadian wastewater management

UBC Civil Engineering Professor Emeritus Donald Mavinic spoke to the Star Vancouver about the need to update Canadian wastewater management standards. As the chair of a panel that spent six months reviewing water contaminants in Canadian cities, Mavinic discusses the need for treatment infrastructure to catch up with the new pollutants entering our water. The […]

Civil Research Associate Listed in CBC Environmentalist Roundup

Dr. Asha Srinivasan listed among powerhouse Canadian environmentalists like Naomi Klein and David Suzuki for her work in waste reduction To celebrate Earth Day, CBC released an article listing “13 Canadian environmentalists and innovators changing Earth for the better.” In addition to household names like David Suzuki and Naomi Klein, the list included a member […]

Civil Engineering graduate students get ready to take clean drinking-water technology to San Francisco in competition for the Hult Prize

An interdisciplinary team of UBC students is ready to take their drinking water technology case one step closer to the $1 million Hult Prize. Rajat Jain, Jatin Maheshwary, and Karan Grover have joined forces to create a business case for the drinking water technology developed under the supervision of Civil Engineering professor Pierre Bérubé. Their entry […]

Civil spin-off company highlighted in Business in Vancouver magazine

Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies has been recognized, along with four other APSC-affiliated companies, in a Business in Vancouver magazine feature called 50 BC Innovations to Watch.  Professor Don Mavinic invented the nutrient recovery technology that takes phosphorus, in the form of struvite, from wastwater treatment systems and turns it into a valuable, environmentally friendly fertilizer. This technology has […]

Prof. Victor Lo’s research receives $300,000 boost from BC Innovation Council

A wastewater treatment research project led by Professor Emeritus Victor Lo has received a $300,000 Ignite Award from the BC Innovation Council, to support the continued efforts to bring Prof. Lo’s “sludge-busting” solution to market. The technology, which uses microwave radiation to pre-treat solid sewage, helps reduce the volume of biosolids resulting from the treatment […]

Media: Professor Bérubé’s low maintenance water filtration technology aims to clean Canada’s dirty water

Thursday, July 27, 2017 | By Lindsay Cashin Professor Pierre Bérubé spoke with Business News Network about his gravity- and bacteria-powered water filtration system. Watch Video

Media: Civil postdoc finds trees can make or break city weather

Thursday, July 27, 2017 | By Lindsay Cashin Even a single urban tree can help moderate wind speeds and keep pedestrians comfortable as they walk down the street, according to a new University of British Columbia study that also found losing a single tree can increase wind pressure on nearby buildings and drive up heating […]

Civil Engineering grad honoured by Environmental Managers Association of BC

Thursday, July 6, 2017 | By Lindsay Cashin A UBC Civil Engineering graduate has received the Emerging Environmental Professional Award from the Environmental Managers Association of BC. Alice Kruchten, who accepted the award at a gala at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club earlier this month, was recognized for her “professional achievement, innovation, experience and leadership, […]

Civil Engineering spin-off company harvests wastewater systems for profit

Thursday, July 6, 2017 | By Lindsay Cashin Journal of Commerce mentioned a wastewater system that was developed at UBC. Professor Don Mavinic’s research led to the spin-off company Ostara, which employs his nutrient recovery technology to extract valuable phosphorous and nitrogen from wastewater, creating a revenue stream for treatment plants while protecting waterways. The […]

Professors Don Mavinic and Victor Lo tap into significant new funding to scale up research

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 | By Lindsay Cashin Two key research initiatives helmed by members of the environmental engineering group at UBC Civil Engineering are set to receive an unprecedented amount of funding to scale up their investigations at three facilities, with the aim of eventually implementing their new technology as a package to improve […]

UBC Civil Engineering team wins 2017 BCWWA student competition for wastewater treatment design

Friday, May 19, 2017 | By Lindsay Cashin A group of third and fourth year UBC Civil Engineering students, competing as team UBSeaTec, placed first at the 2017 BC Water & Waste Association (BCWWA) Student Design Competition. This year’s competition challenged students to create a feasibility design for a wastewater treatment upgrade to the Tsawout […]

Civil PhD student awarded major international scholarship for drinking water research

Friday, May 5, 2017 | By Lindsay Cashin The American Water Works Association has awarded Civil PhD candidate Shona Robinson the 2017 Dave Caldwell Scholarship for her research in the drinking water field. Shona is part of a research group investigating membrane filtration, a popular technology for drinking water treatment. Porous membranes effectively filter out microorganisms and […]

Prof. Bérubé’s low-maintenance water filtration to help remote communities

Monday, May 1, 2017 | By Lindsay Cashin The Hindustan Times featured Civil professor Pierre Bérubé’s invention that uses bacteria and gravity to turn non-potable water into drinking water. Prof. Bérubé said the filtration system was developed specifically for small and remote communities.

Discussing water treatment system

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 | By Lindsay Cashin Radio Canada interviewed Pierre Bérubé, a UBC civil engineering professor and project lead on an invention that uses bacteria and gravity to turn non-potable water into drinking water. Prof. Bérubé said membranes in the system latch on to particles like dirt, bacteria and viruses.

How clean water in remote communities could be cheap and easy

Wednesday, April 5, 2017 | By Lindsay Cashin CTV reported on UBC Civil Engineering researchers who have created a system that uses bacteria and gravity to turn grey water into drinking water. Professor Pierre Bérubé, who led the project, said the technology removes the need for chemicals and complex mechanical systems that make water treatment systems […]

Prof. Bérubé’s water treatment system uses bacteria to purify water

Tuesday, April 4, 2017 | By Lindsay Cashin A UBC Civil Engineering-developed system that uses bacteria to turn non-potable water into drinking water will be tested next week in West Vancouver prior to being installed in remote communities in Canada and beyond. The system consists of tanks of fibre membranes that catch and hold contaminants—dirt, […]

“Does Vancouver Need to Save Water?” Adjunct Prof. Troy Vassos talks with CKNW on the benefits of reclaiming wastewater

Thursday, March 30, 2017 | By Lindsay Cashin Adjunct professor Troy Vassos spoke with the Jon McComb Show on World Water Day about the benefits of recycling wastewater for non-potable use in buildings and facilities around the world. Listen to the segment here: https://omny.fm/shows/the-jon-mccomb-show/does-vancouver-need-to-save-wa…

Profs. Bérubé, Banthia’s IC-IMPACTS work featured in “Troubled Waters” series

Friday, March 24, 2017 | By Lindsay Cashin The work being done by Professors Pierre Bérubé, Nemy Banthia, and other researchers with IC-IMPACTS is highlighted in “Troubled Waters,” a new five-part series in The Province. The series follows researchers to sites in India and Northern BC, where issues of drinking water contamination are gravely impacting local communities. […]

Professor Don Mavinic named WEF Fellow

Thursday, July 21, 2016 | By Lindsay Cashin Professor Don Mavinic has been named a Fellow of the Water Environment Federation (WEF). WEF is a technical and educational organization dedicated to improving the quality of water, boasting a membership of 33,000 water professionals and 75 affiliated Member Associations around the world (including the BC Water […]

Civil in the news: Prof. Don Mavinic on modern wastewater treatment challenges

Tuesday, May 10, 2016 | By Lindsay Cashin Professor Don Mavinic is quoted in a recent opinion piece for the Times Colonist, by Jonathan Wilkinson, MP for North Vancouver and parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. Mr. Wilkinson discusses the implementation of effective sewage treatment in the Capital Regional District in […]

Civil in the News: Prof. Loretta Li analyzes ancient medicinal clay

Wednesday, February 3, 2016 | By Lindsay Cashin Professor Loretta Li is mentioned in a recent UBC Media release about research being conducted on Kisameet clay, long used by the Heiltsuk First Nation for its healing potential. First Nation’s clay kills antibiotic-resistant bacteria in lab tests – CBC News When Tradition Meets Business and Science: The Complex […]

Civil engineering research recognized at BC Legislative Assembly

At the BC Legislative Assembly on the technology for recycling of phosphorus from sewage, MLA Ralph Sultan spoke of Civil Engineering Professor Don Mavinic’s research on phosphorus recycling. Dr. Mavinic and his team of UBC engineers recently demonstrated how they extract phosphorus and convert it into a slow-release fertilizer at Annacis Island. Sultan was present at the […]

Civil researchers report exciting findings in the field of superoxygenation

L – R: Civil graduate student Tyler Barber, Professor Don Mavinic, and Ken Christison, principal engineer at Northwest Hydraulic Consultants, pictured with the aeration column and dissolved oxygen monitors used for this research. Supplying oxygen via aeration for water treatment is an energy intensive process, accounting for up to 60% of the energy requirements in […]

Professor Pierre Bérubé co-supervisor of AWWA Student Best Paper Award winner

Dr. Pierre Bérubé was co-supervisor for the paper entitled “Impact of Surface Shear Stress and Pre-Coagulation on Membrane Fouling,” which was selected to receive the American Water Works Association Student Best Paper Award at the 2014 Membrane Technology Conference. Dr. Heather Wray (Ph.D. candidate at the time and now a Civil Postdoctoral Fellow) was the student winner. […]

Civil researchers work toward a sustainable waste management system for the wastewater treatment industry

Dr. K. Victor Lo’s team of graduate students, research associates, and postdoctoral fellows in Civil are approaching pre-commercialization of their “sludge-busting” microwave technology for sustainable waste management in the wastewater treatment industry. The microwave enhanced advanced oxidation process (MW/H2O2) is a patented technology developed by Dr. K.V. Lo’s research team at the UBC’s Civil Engineering […]

Robotic Exploration of Aquatic Environments

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 2, 20121:00pm – 2:00pmKAISER 2020/2030 ” Robotic Exploration of Aquatic Environments”By Dr. Bernard LavalAssociate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering Abstract Exploration of the aquatic environment is complicated by extreme pressure and near-zero propagation of radio or microwave radiation. While extreme pressure requires bulky pressure protection vessels, a greater obstacle to exploration of aquatic […]

Cleaning Membranes with Bubbles

TUESDAY, March 06, 20121:00pm – 3:00pmKAISER 2020/2030 “Cleaning Membranes with Bubbles”By Dr. Pierre Bérubé, P.Eng.Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering AbstractMembrane systems are increasingly being used in water treatment applications because of their ability to effectively retain contaminants of concern. However, some of the retained material can accumulate. Unless removed, the accumulated material (i.e. foulants) […]