Global structural materials expert awarded top UBC research prize

Professor Nemy Banthia has been awarded the Jacob Biely Faculty Research Prize, UBC’s highest research accolade, in recognition of his distinguished record of research which has contributed substantially to the university’s stature as a leading research institution.

Awarded to one UBC faculty member annually, the prize is named after eminent researcher and professor Jacob Biely, who joined UBC in 1935 and later became Head of the Department of Poultry Science, a position that he held until retirement in 1968.

As one of the most cited in the field of concrete materials and structures, Dr. Banthia is responsible for developing numerous advanced ultra-high performance concrete materials, methods of laboratory and field testing, and novel sensors for structural health monitoring.

Dr. Banthia currently serves in the Department of Civil Engineering as a Professor and a Senior Canada Research Chair. His work at UBC have pioneered breakthroughs in concrete materials and resulted in remarkable new and innovative techniques for improving ways of repairing, strengthening, and rehabilitating various civil infrastructure.

This past year, he spearheaded the development of a new type of dielectric sensors that can detect the onset of scour in bridges and other water infrastructures. He, along with a team of researchers, installed these sensors at Guichon Creek in Burnaby, BC. Already, these sensors have detected several instances of scour at the platform and allowed for immediate correction.

Tilbury Wastewater Junction Chamber Project

In 2020, Dr. Banthia and his team partnered with Metro Vancouver to develop a sewer pipe coating technology aimed at combatting bio-corrosion caused by sulphuric acid produced by bacteria. Implemented at the Tilbury Wastewater Junction Chamber near Annacis Island in Vancouver, this coating technology applies a carbon-neutral, geopolymer coating with biocides to help sewers resist bacterial attack and extend the infrastructure’s service life.

With citations approaching 17,000, Dr. Banthia is known for transferring his knowledge through collaborations and applications on a global scale. He has published over 475 refereed papers and edited 20 volumes. He holds 9 patents and serves on the Editorial Boards of nine international journals.

In addition to his extensive research record, Dr. Banthia also leads the India-Canada Centre for Innovative Multidisciplinary Partnerships to Accelerate Community Transformation and Sustainability (IC-IMPACTS), a $60 million international Research Centre of Excellence whose mission is to leverage applied research in water, infrastructure and public health to bring advanced technologies to communities in Canada and India.

“I am extremely honoured to be receiving the Jacob Biely Prize. UBC’s Top Research Prize also truly belongs to the exceptional graduate students that I have been fortunate to work with,” said Dr. Banthia.

Dr. Banthia is a fellow of the American Concrete Institute, Canadian Society for Civil Engineering, Indian Concrete Institute, Canadian Academy of Engineering (CAE), Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE), and the Royal Society of Canada.