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 Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand.

Dr. Beck’s research broadly focuses on understanding and preventing pathogen transmission in water treatment. “The goal is to identify microbial contaminants of concern in drinking water and wastewater sources and to develop and evaluate cost effective and energy-efficient clean water processes to reduce that microbial contamination,” she said.

The development of these technologies may contribute to solving significant problems, as water becomes increasingly scarcer on our resource-limited Earth.

Dr. Beck’s unconventional path took her from a Bachelor’s degree in aerospace and a coveted position at NASA supporting the Space Shuttle program, to cofounding the Central Houston chapter of Engineers Without Borders-USA, to working on small-scale water and power projects in a rural community in Uganda.

“It gave me insight into the challenges faced by many people around the world regarding access to safe drinking water,” she said.

The throughline that connects Dr. Beck’s diverse background is global collaboration from a research perspective, which she is excited to continue to champion at UBC Civil Engineering.

This fall, she will host three researchers from Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Nigeria—all of whom are passionate and driven to improve water quality in their home communities.

“I look forward to giving them a strong foundation and mentoring them, and others, in this next step of their careers,” she said.

“I am delighted to welcome Dr. Beck to our department. Sustainability in a global context is more crucial today than ever, and Dr. Beck brings her passion for the environment and her expertise in clean water, as well as her diverse experiences abroad,” said Department Head Bernard Laval.

Dr. Beck earned her B.S./B.A. in Aerospace Engineering and Studio Art from the University of Colorado Boulder, her M.S. in Environmental Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and finally her Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2015.

Learn more about Dr. Beck and her research on her Faculty Profile.