Dr. Michael Isaacson

Dean Emeritus

Hydrotechnical Engineering


Email: isaacson@apsc.ubc.ca

Publications: Google Scholar


Dr. Michael Isaacson is Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of British Columbia and is registered as a Professional Engineer in British Columbia. He received his degrees in engineering from the University of Cambridge, and was subsequently employed in engineering design and research in Great Britain and the United States. He joined UBC in 1976, and has since remained active in research, teaching, university service and professional service.

Research. Dr. Isaacson’s primary research interests relate to coastal and offshore hydrodynamics, with a particular emphasis on ocean waves and their effects on structures. In the context of his research, Dr. Isaacson has supervised to completion 36 Masters students and 11 Ph.D. Students; he is the author of over 240 papers, including over 90 in professional journals; he has co-authored two books, including Mechanics of Wave Forces on Offshore Structures that has been widely used in the offshore industry; and he has served as a specialist consultant on a wide variety of coastal and ocean engineering projects for government agencies, major oil companies, consulting engineering companies and law firms.

Teaching. Dr. Isaacson’s teaching interests relate to fluid mechanics and various aspects of hydrotechnical engineering, as well as to more general aspects of engineering education and the role of engineers in society. Courses taught at the undergraduate level include coastal engineering, engineering design, engineering economics, fluid mechanics, hydraulics, mechanics, and wind engineering; and those at the graduate level include waves and wave effects, coastal and offshore modeling, fluid loads, sedimentation mechanics, and structural dynamics. Over the past few years, Dr. Isaacson has taught or co-taught the courses listed below.

University Service. Dr. Isaacson served as Head of the Department of Civil Engineering from 1992-1997, and as Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science from 1997-2008. He has also served in many roles outside his Faculty, including service as a member of UBC’s Vancouver Senate for 17 years, and as Special Advisor to the Deputy Vice Chancellor of UBC Okanagan for two years.

Professional Service. Dr. Isaacson was Editor / Co-Editor of the Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering for 8 years (1995-2003), and has served on many national and international professional committees and boards. Since 2009, he has been a member of Council of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC, including service as President for 2012-13; and since 2011 he has been a member of the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board.

Honours and Awards. Dr. Isaacson is Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada, the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering and the American Society of Civil Engineers, and is a past Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering. He is the recipient of several national and international awards, including the R.A. McLachlan Award of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia; the Killam Research Prize from UBC; the Camille A. Dagenais Award from the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering; the Julian C. Smith Medal from the Engineering Institute of Canada; and the Chairman’s Award for Career Achievement from the BC Innovation Council.

Research Interests

Coastal and offshore hydrodynamics, with a particular emphasis on ocean waves and their effects on structures.


CIVL 201 Introduction to Civil Engineering

CIVL 402 Professional and Legal Aspects of Civil Engineering

CIVL 403 Engineering Economic Analysis

CIVL 417 Coastal Engineering

CIVL 540 Waves and Wave Effects

Student Research Opportunities

[Note: Dr. Isaacson is not accepting applications from potential graduate students or those seeking research positions.]