Professors Loretta Li and Tony Yang receive province’s top awards for engineers

We are excited to announce that two faculty members in our Department received the 2020 President’s Awards from Engineers and Geoscientists BC. The awards are the province’s top awards for professional engineers and geoscientists and recognize those with outstanding achievement in professional, technical, and community contributions.

Professor Loretta Li received the R.A. McLachlan Memorial Award, while Professor Tony Yang earned the Meritorious Achievement Award.

“These awards demonstrate how UBC Civil Engineering faculty members continue to make exceptional contributions through their groundbreaking research and their dedication to excellence in teaching and innovation,” said Department Head Bernard Laval. “On behalf of our Department, my warmest congratulations to Dr. Li and Dr. Yang on their well-deserved honours.”

Over the past 25 years, Dr. Loretta Li’s contributions to environmental quality and sustainable remediation have significantly enhanced public safety and impacted policy decisions in Canada and around the world. Of particular note is her work on sites contaminated by per- and poly-fluorinated alkyl substances and polybrominated diphenyl ethers. In addition to 12 refereed publications—three within the United Nations Industrial Developmental Organization—this research generated new knowledge on how brominated flame retardants are entering the environment and their impact as by-products in surface and surface soils.

Dr. Li is passionate about bridging the gender gap in engineering. In addition to her teaching duties at UBC, which includes courses in Environmental Impact Studies, Geo-Environmental Engineering, and Investigation Risk Assessment, Dr. Li has been involved in many women-in-engineering initiatives aimed at cultivating the next generation of female engineer. She also regularly served as a speaker in Battered Women’s Support Group to provide guidance to domestic abuse victims who wished to return to the workforce.

“It is a great honour to receive this award, and I am humbled to join an inspiring group of first-rate engineers and geoscientists,” said Dr. Li. “Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to have had several admirable mentors, and to have worked closely alongside leading researchers and aspiring graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.”

Dr. Tony Yang has made remarkable contributions to the fields of structural and earthquake engineering. Among his most significant contributions is the development of the fundamental underpinnings for performance-based earthquake engineering (PBEE), which resulted in its implementation in design codes worldwide. Regarded as one of the leading earthquake engineering experts in the world, Dr. Yang has led the development of multiple innovative structural components and systems that have significantly improved the safety and economy of infrastructures in Canada and worldwide.

Here at the UBC Department of Civil Engineering, Dr. Yang’s teaching and research are focused on the advanced simulation and experimental testing of complex structural systems under dynamic loads. His course offering includes Advanced Topics in Steel Structures, and Innovative Structural Systems. A major community advocate, Dr. Yang has volunteered to give over 100 national and international seminars on earthquake and disaster mitigation. Each year, he leads the development of public education initiatives for City of Vancouver’s annual “Earthquake Day.”

“I feel deep gratitude for receiving the Meritorious Achievement Award,” said Dr. Yang. “It’s a tremendous honour to represent UBC Civil Engineering and be recognized alongside this group of dedicated and talented engineers and geoscientists.”