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CBBG Leadership Team

Kavazanjian_Edward_0004b-crpd-224x300Edward Kavazanjian Jr., Ph.D., P.E.,
CBBG Center Director

Edward Kavazanjian returned to academia with an appointment at ASU in 2004 after 20 years in engineering practice. His industrial experience includes working for a large (over 2,000 employees) international firm specializing in civil infrastructure design; a small, entrepreneurial geotechnical specialty consulting firm; and 10 years with a geoenvironmental consulting firm that grew from 100 to over 400 people during his tenure. At the geoenvironmental consulting firm, he served on the Board of Directors, was discipline leader for geotechnical and landfill engineering, managed multi-disciplinary engineering services contracts of up to $8.4 million in value (for the City of Los Angles Department of Public Works), and managed geotechnical services on Superfund design/construct remediation projects with total value from $13 million to over $150 million. Professor Kavazanjian was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in 2013 for his work as a consulting engineer. He is widely recognized for his research on waste containment systems, seismic analysis and design of geotechnical features for transportation systems, and in the emerging field of biogeotechnical engineering.

zapata-picture-cbbgClaudia E. Zapata, Ph.D.,
CBBG Center Deputy Director

Claudia Zapata is an Associate Professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at ASU. Her research interests focus on laboratory and field characterization of problematic soils and bio-mediated geomaterials, the behavior of soils due to repeated loading and environmental effects, and modeling fluid flow and volume change of soils applied to pavement structures and residential foundation systems.  She is also heavily invested in engineering education and diversity and outreach activities.  Her current research activities include the study of fluid flow in soils due to thermal gradients and how it affects airfield pavement structures and the introduction of unsaturated soil mechanics principles into the undergraduate geotechnical engineering curriculum.  She has played a major role in the development of models to incorporate environmental effects into pavement design practice, including the newest AASHTO Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Guide, and in development of a database of unsaturated soil properties for the continental United States, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. 

dejongJason DeJong, Ph.D.,
Thrust leader for Hazard Mitigation (Thrust 1)

Jason DeJong is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UCD. Through his Soil Interactions Laboratory, he directs research into bio-mediated soils processes, advanced site characterization, behavior of intermediate and gravelly soils, sustainable geotechnical practice, and deep foundation performance. Fundamental scientific advances in these research areas have been successfully upscaled to full-scale field deployment in practice, including MICP trials at a mining site, characterization of gravel in the foundation of several large dams in California, and development of standards on offshore site characterization. Professor DeJong has given several keynote lectures at national and international conferences and is the lead author of several pioneering publications on biogeotechnics. His work has been funded through more than $5M in industry, state and federal grants, which led to over 100 peer-reviewed publications and the training of more than 40 graduate students.

krajmalnik-brown_rosaRosa Krajmalnik-Brown, Ph.D.
Thrust leader for Environmental Protection and Ecological Restoration (Thrust 2)

Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown has more than 10 years of experience conducting sponsored research in remediation. She has successfully worked on multi-disciplinary engineering projects totaling more than $9 million. She has an NSF-Career award, more than 50 peer-reviewed publications, 1 patent, and 7 pending patent applications. She is the director of the Microbiome Sequencing Laboratory at ASU. Her current research applies principles and tools of molecular microbial ecology to address key environmental engineering issues, including: 1) biodegradation of chlorinated organics, 2) biotechnology for energy production, and 3) genomics of microorganisms in humans. All these areas involve the management of microbial interactions to exploit the beneficial metabolic capabilities of microorganisms.

paola_bandiniPaola Bandini, Ph.D., P.E.
Thrust leader for Infrastructure Construction (Thrust 3)

Paola Bandini is an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at NMSU. She has 12 years of geotechnical engineering research and teaching experience. Her research has focused on the application of experimental and numerical methods to geomechanics. Her current research interests include determination of engineering properties of desert and diatom-containing soils, erosion control measures for transportation structures, sustainable use of materials in civil engineering (foam glass, waste tires, adobe), and modeling and evaluation of pavement performance. As a PI, she has managed $2.2 million in grants and contracts from state agencies and private industry. She leads the “Modeling for the Design, Construction, and Management of Geosystems” Committee of the Transportation Research Board (TRB).

frost-davidJ. David Frost, Ph.D., P.E. 
Thrust Leader for Natural Resource Development (Thrust 4)

David Frost is a Professor of Civil Engineering at Georgia Tech. Prior to entering academia, he worked in industry in Ireland and Canada on infrastructure and natural resource related projects. A core focus throughout his career has been the study of natural and man-made systems and materials. His research is centered on the application and development of digital technologies for studying subsurface problems at multiple scales and he has received two U.S. patents for multi-sensor subsurface systems. He has graduated more than 30 PhD students, 40% of whom have gone on to academic positions. He has served on or led post-disaster study teams following disasters in the US, Turkey, India, China, Chile and Japan and is a founding member and co-chair of the Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance (GEER) Association. He has organized numerous workshops and conferences on the applications of spatial analysis and image processing techniques to study the response of geomaterial systems under various loading conditions. He is a registered professional engineer in the US and Canada.

delia_saenzDelia Saenz, Ph.D.
Diversity Director

Delia Saenz is Associate Professor of Psychology and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Arizona State University. Her doctorate, in Social Psychology, was awarded from Princeton University in 1987. She served previously as an assistant professor of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame before moving to ASU. Dr. Saenz is also a Research Professor in the ASU Hispanic Research Center, and during her tenure at ASU, she has served administratively as Director of the Graduate Program in Social Psychology, interim Associate Dean of the Graduate College, and Director of the Intergroup Relations Center. Dr. Saenz is a Fellow of the Western Psychological Association, and has served as Representative at Large and Program Chair for WPA. She is also a member of the editorial board for Small Group Research.

 savenye-photo-img_9635Wilhelmina Savenye, Ph.D.
Executive Director of Education

Wilhelmina Savenye has over 25 years of experience as a learning technologist and learning systems designer, evaluator, and multimedia/online learning specialist. Savenye has published over 70 articles and chapters in these areas. She employs her background in anthropology and education to conduct learning research in both formal (school, university, industry) and informal (museums, botanical gardens, zoo) settings. Her research for the past 9 years has impacted engineering education through interdisciplinary development of learning materials and research including NSF-IGERT and NSF-TUES. She was recently awarded the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College “Research with Sustained Impact” award. She has graduated 21 Ph.D. students, has served for over 10 years as the graduate programs coordinator in Educational Technology, and is the Associate Editor of the Journal of Applied Instructional Design. 

susan-brown2Susan W. Brown, Ph.D.
Pre-College Education Director

Susan Brown is a Research Associate Professor at New Mexico State University (NMSU) and currently is the Director of the STEM Outreach Center for the NMSU College of Education.  She is the Principal Investigator/Co-Investigator of a NSF grant, several foundation grants, three NASA projects (including the Southern New Mexico Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Aerospace Academy on the campus of New Mexico State University) and other state/federal grants.  Her K-12th grade after school programs touch the lives of over 5,000 students each year as well as her work with K-12th grade teachers in providing high quality professional development opportunities that include increasing the teachers’ content knowledge and use of brain researched teaching strategies.  Her outreach focus is increasing student participation and achievement in the STEM fields.    Her research focus is science education and the underrepresentation of minority students and females in the fields of science, math, and engineering.  She joined the University after teaching 16 years in middle and high school science classes.

mcmitchellMartha Mitchell, Ph.D., P.E.
Assistant Director for Diversity

Martha Mitchell is the Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Chemical Engineering in the College of Engineering at New Mexico State University (NMSU. As Associate Dean for Research, she oversees the NMSU College of Engineering Research Center, which assists faculty and research staff in pre- and post-award sponsored projects activities. She was the principal investigator for an NSF ADVANCE PAID grant that was a collaborative effort among New Mexico State University, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, the University of New Mexico, and Los Alamos National Laboratory. She currently serves on the ASEE Engineering Research Council Board.  Dr. Mitchell’s research interests are in computer modeling and simulation of adsorption and transport in nanoporous materials. She has used Molecular Dynamics, Grand Canonical Monte Carlo simulations, and Molecular Density Functional Theory to study molecular-level adsorption and transport of fluids confined to nanoporous materials. She has collaborated with researchers from NMSU, Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory and NASA-White Sands Test Facility.

Nasser Hamdan PhotoNasser Hamdan, Ph.D.
CBBG Industrial Collaboration and Innovation Director

Nasser Hamdan is an Assistant Research Professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at ASU. His expertise is in biogeotechnical engineering and biogeochemical processes for ground improvement and remediation. His research activities involve experimentation and analytical testing related to induced mineral precipitation using biological processes and macromolecules such as enzymes and biopolymers. He is currently involved in various projects directed towards the improvement of the bulk mechanical properties of soil, surficial soil stabilization, sustainable building materials, facilitated mineral precipitation and environmental remediation. Prior to pursuing his graduate degree in civil engineering, Dr. Hamdan spent nearly 10 years in the electrical and plumbing service industry. He also has experience operating retail and self-service businesses, and experience in negotiating and drafting contracts related to these businesses.

Phone: (480) 965-2277, Email:

larson-picture-cbbgJean Larson, Ph.D.
Education Director

Jean Larson, Ph.D., is an Assistant Research Professor in both the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment and the Division of Educational Leadership and Innovation at Arizona State University. She has a Ph.D. in Educational Technology, postgraduate training in Computer Systems Engineering, and many years of experience teaching and developing curriculum in various learning environments. She has taught technology integration and teacher training to undergraduate and graduate students at Arizona State University, students at the K-12 level locally and abroad, and various workshops and modules in business and industry. Dr. Larson is experienced in the application of instructional design, delivery, evaluation, and specializes in eLearning technologies for training and development. Her research focuses on the efficient and effective transfer of knowledge and learning techniques, innovative and interdisciplinary collaboration, and strengthening the bridge between K-12 learning and higher education in terms of engineering content.

Robert Brier
Administrative Director

Robert (Bob) Brier, Administrative Director, started at CBBG in August 2018 and brings with him years of sponsored research administration experience, including grant and financial management, human resources oversight, proposal and budget development, operational support, and strategic planning. Prior to joining CBBG, he was Director of Strategic Affairs as Arizona State University. He also served as the Senior Financial and Administrative Officer at the National Academies of Sciences as well as the Financial and Administrative Director at the Brookings Institution, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Harvard School of Public Health. He also lead the pre-award grants office at the Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

cbbg_logoMichelle R. Walker
Project Coordinator

Michelle Walker brings to CBBG a strong background in fiscal, database and records management, business operations, communications, report preparation, event coordination, and customer service. She is completing her B.S. degree in Graphic Information Technology at ASU, which has benefitted CBBG as she designs and produces all Center collateral materials (newsletters, brochures, fliers, reports), and manages the CBBG web site. Ms. Walker joined CBBG after working at the ASU QESST ERC, the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at ASU, and the ASU Alumni Association.

Caitlyn Hall
CBBG Student Leadership Council President

Caitlyn A. Hall is the President of the CBBG Student Leadership Council.  She is a graduate student at Arizona State University, seeking a PhD in Environmental Engineering.  Her topic is Biogeochemical Reactive Transport Modeling of Microbially Induced Desaturation and Precipitation via Denitrification (MIDP).  Her advisors are Dr. Bruce Rittmann and Dr. Ed Kavazanjian. 

Student Research Summary:  The primary objective of my work is to develop a predictive model to consider environmental biochemical effects and subsurface flow patterns on the delivery of substrate and MIDP product formation to the soil at risk of liquefaction.  Though MIDP has been shown to be effective in mitigating liquefaction in laboratory conditions, little has been done to investigate up-scaling of this technology for near-term applications.  Environmental conditions found in the field will introduce engineering challenges and affect process deployment and outcomes.  These should be investigated further and considered to improve prediction accuracy and process optimization.  Therefore, the substrate components and their interaction with biogeochemical and hydromechanical properties in the soil need to be explored and understood.  These developments are to be implemented in the developed predictive tool, such that field deployment of this treatment strategy and its subsequent mechanical effects can be estimated.  The resulting multiphase reactive transport biogeochemical model will then be validated using experimental data.


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