PhD Students

Mohammad Akbarnezhad

Mohammad is a PhD student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University. He received his Bachelor and Master degree in Civil Engineering at Sharif University of Technology.

His research will focus on the development of vulnerability functions for bridges and regional prediction of bridge performance. This work will include detailed modeling and nonlinear analysis of complex highway bridges. Mohammad has interest in Seismic Risk Assessment, Probabilistic Hazard Analysis, Finite Element Analysis, and application of shape memory alloys in structural rehabilitation and retrofitting.

Research: Application of Neural Networks in Development of Bridge Fragility Functions

Qiu Zheng

Qiu Zheng is a Ph.D. student in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Tongji University in 2016.

His research interests include finite element analysis, modeling of bridge systems, seismic probabilistic assessment, and structural damage identification with machine learning methods.

Research: Next Generation Bridge Fragility Functions for California Bridges

Yijian (Albert) Zhang

Albert is a PhD student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Institute of technology. He received both of his B.S. (2012) and M.S. (2014) in Civil Engineering from University of California at Berkeley. After he received his degrees, he worked in Thornton Tomasetti as a structural engineer for designing high-rise buildings in China.

His research is to develop a new framework that uses the data collected from the robotic exploration of infrastructure, particularly considering the effect of localized deterioration on structural stability of members, to assess the condition of bridges and prioritize these structures for repair.

Albert has research interests in nonlinear analysis of structures, seismic risk assessment, modeling deterioration of RC structures due to chloride-induced corrosion, and development of constitutive material model for finite element analysis.

Research: Bridge Resilience Assessment with INSPIRE Data or

 Civil Engineering PhD student Pablo Vega

Pablo is a PhD candidate in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Pablo received his Bachelors and Masters of Science in Civil Engineering at The University of Puerto Rico–Mayaguez.

Pablo’s PhD research investigates new ways to retrofit old concrete buildings and applications of shape memory alloys in structural engineering. He also has a keen interest in automation of design/analysis processes for civil engineering projects. While finishing his PhD, Pablo works as a structural analyst at Arup’s Advanced Technology + Research group in New York. In his spare time, Pablo enjoys sports and athletic activities, playing guitar, and exploring the wide variety of cuisines New York City has to offer.

Research: Cost-Benefit Analyses for Seismic Retrofit of Nonductile Concrete Buildings

Post-Doctoral Scholar

Yazhou (Tim) Xie, Ph.D.

Tim received his Ph.D. (2017) in Civil Engineering from UCLA, and his M.S. in Bridge Engineering (2011) and B.S. in Civil Engineering (2008), both from Tongji University, China.

His primary research interests include seismic assessment and protection of highway bridges using high-fidelity modeling approaches, advanced statistical tools, and innovative devices. He is the recipient of UCLA Dissertation Year Fellowship and the UCLA Martin Rubin Scholarship for academic excellence. He has served as the president and vice president of the EERI student chapter at UCLA.

Research: Next Generation Fragility Functions for California Bridges

Academic Visitor

Han Li 

Han Li is a PhD student in Tongji University and currently an academic visitor of Reginald DesRoches’s research group in the George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice University. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Civil Engineering from Tongji University.

Her research interests include development of novel isolation devices, seismic risk assessment of isolated bridges, finite element analysis, and transportation network resilience.

Research: High-Performance Isolation Rubber Bearings for the Seismic Mitigation of Bridges

Past PhD Students


Dr. La Sasha Walker (2018)

Dr. Sujith Mangalathu (2017)

Post-Doc, UCLA


Dr. Nan Gao (2017)

Post-Doc, Georgia Tech

Farahnaz Soleimani

Dr. Farahnaz Soleimani (2017)

Post-Doc, Georgia Tech



Dr.Tim Wright (2015)

MS Student in Data Analytics, GT



Dr. Laura Redmond (2014)

Assistant Professor

Clemson University


Prof. Jong-Su Jeon (2013)

Assistant Professor
Andong University, Korea



Prof.Reza Mizaeifar (2013)

Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering
Virginia Tech

Prof. Stephanie Paal (2013)

Assistant Professor
Texas A&M University


Dr. Jazalyn Dukes (2013)

Research Engineer
Washington, D.C.


Dr. Karthik Ramanathan (2012)

Senior Engineer, Manager Air Worldwide
Boston, MA


Dr. Ben Kosbab (2010)

Principal Engineer
SC Solutions
Atlanta, GA


Prof. Abdollah Shafieezadeh (2011)

Assistant Professor,
Ohio State University

Dr. Laura Jacobs (2010)

Research Engineer,
Los Alamos National Labs
New Mexico


Dr. Matthew Speicher (2009)

Research Structural Engineer NIST, MD


Prof. Masahiro Kurata (2009)

Associate Professor
Kyoto University, Japan


Prof. Jamie Padgett (2009)

Associate Professor
Rice University


Dr. Murat Eroz (2007)

Project Engineer
Alpaslan, Hydro Projects II, Turkey


Prof. Monique Head (2007)

Associate Professor
University of Delaware


Dr. Berk Taftali (2007)

Software Engineer
CSI Ankara, Turkey


Dr. Walter Yang (2006)

Research Engineer II
Georgia Tech Atlanta, GA


Prof. Jason McCormick (2006)

Associate Professor
University of Michigan


Prof. Bryant Nielson (2005)

Professor of Practice
Clemson University


Prof. Bassem Andrawes (2005)

Associate Professor


Dr. Davide Fugazza (2005)

Sales Engineer
ANSYS Wavre, Belgium


Dr. Susendar Muthukumar (2003)

Senior Associate
Walter P Moore Austin, TX


Prof. Eunsoo Choi (2002)

Hongik University, Korea