UBC Civil Engineering welcomes new faculty members Amy Kim and Zhengbo Zou

The Department of Civil Engineering is pleased to extend a warm welcome to two new faculty members:

Dr. Amy Kim joins the Department as an Associate Professor in the Transportation Engineering specialization.

Dr. Kim’s research centres on modeling various aspects of multimodal transportation systems, and how this can help support strategic planning efforts and policy decisions. Areas of research Dr. Kim is active in include northern transportation planning, strategic transportation planning for natural disasters, and long-distance travel.

Her research, broadly called transportation systems analysis, is especially critical right now as climate change calls for adaptive and resilient transportation infrastructures.

Dr. Kim will be teaching 4th-year undergraduates and graduate students transportation engineering, planning, and systems analysis techniques.

“One of the greatest privileges of being a professor is the freedom to pursue the research questions I believe are important to society,” said Dr. Kim. “And it goes hand in hand with the responsibility of providing good training to future engineers.”

She hopes to equip students with the knowledge and critical thinking skills to tackle major challenges within transportation, including creating equitable access to opportunities for all Canadians.

“Providing good training includes creating an environment that embraces different perspectives and backgrounds—where all students are supported to succeed,” she said.

Dr. Kim grew up in Vancouver, but left to pursue her undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo. She obtained a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley. After a few years in the consulting industry, she went back to Berkeley for her PhD. After spending nearly a decade as a faculty member at the University of Alberta, she is excited to return to Vancouver and join UBC.

“I most look forward to the people,” she said. “UBC attracts the best and brightest, and I am grateful for the opportunity to work among and with everyone here.”

To learn more about Professor Amy Kim and her research, please visit her Faculty Profile.

Dr. Zhengbo Zou joins the Department as an Assistant Professor. His appointment builds on the Department’s expertise in Project and Construction Management.

Dr. Zou’s research revolves around the relationship between humans and built environments. He uses quantitative methods, such as biometric sensing, to examine how architectural design features (e.g. the luminance level in an office) can affect the human experience (e.g. stress).

“I intend to integrate sensing, virtual and augmented reality, and machine learning, in the design, construction, and facility management of built environments to gain a deeper understanding of the relationships of humans and their environment,” he said.

In the classroom, Dr. Zou likes to use demonstrations to lay solid foundation of basic knowledge, and encourage student-led discussions and hands-on projects to help students develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills. He is particularly excited to introduce cutting-edge methods and tools to the next generation of civil engineers.

“Our graduates need to master state-of-the-art tools utilized by the industry, and hands-on practice with real-world projects provide invaluable experience to students,” he said. “I am excited to use Building Information Modeling (BIM) in teaching construction, as it introduces a new way of communication among stakeholders of a project beyond the traditional pen and paper.”

Dr. Zou’s journey began in Shanghai, China, where he received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Tongji University. From there, he attended Carnegie Mellon University for his master’s in Advanced Infrastructure Systems. After a slight shift in focus towards project and construction, he obtained his PhD from New York University.

Dr. Zou looks forward to moving to Vancouver and conducting research in a city known for its commitment to environmental sustainability.

“Vancouver is an ideal place for my research topics because of its ambitious goal of reducing its overall carbon emissions by 50% by 2030, and currently, buildings account for 54% of the fossil fuels burned in the city,” he said.

“I also look forward to collaborating in research and teaching with other faculty members and students, as my research is inter-disciplinary in nature, and access to world-class researchers and the brightest students is key to shaping my research direction and methodology,” he added.

To learn more about Professor Zhengbo Zou and his research, please visit his Faculty Profile.

“It gives me great pleasure to welcome Drs Amy Kim and Zhengbo Zou to the Department of Civil Engineering. I am excited to have them join us in our mission to strive for excellence in teaching, innovative research, and promoting equity, diversity and engagement,” said Department Head Bernard Laval.

Congratulations and welcome to both Dr. Kim and Dr. Zou!