The CBBG leadership and research team is an exemplar of diversity (43% Hispanic and 57% female), well above the national averages for Engineering professionals (NSF, 2013).

Edward 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.


Claudia 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.


Jason 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.


Leon van Paassen, Ph.D. Thrust leader for Environmental Protection and Ecological Restoration (Thrust 2)

Leon van Paassen is Associate Professor at Arizona State University (ASU) and Senior Investigator at the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Centre for Bio-mediated and Bio-inspired Geotechnics (CBBG). He has more than 15 years research experience and expertise in the biological, chemical, and geotechnical characterization of soils and biochemical reactive transport and multiphase flow in porous media. Past and current research projects include, bio-based ground improvement through microbially induced carbonate precipitation, liquefaction mitigation through desaturation by stimulating nitrate-reducing bacteria to produce nitrogen gas, using bio mineralization for dust suppression, bio-mediated iron precipitation for permeability reduction and mangrove inspired scour protection for submerged foundation systems. His affiliation to CBBG and collaboration with industrial partners allowed him to develop and transfer several of these technologies from a proof-of-concept in the laboratory to field scale demonstration projects for a variety of geotechnical and geo-environmental engineering applications. He teaches courses on Geotechnical Engineering, Engineering Geology, Bio-based Geotechnical Engineering and Advanced Geotechnical Testing. Since May 2020 he acts as Co-Principal Investigator for CBBG at ASU and leads the research thrust on Environmental Protection and Restoration, which includes projects on restoring surface crusts of disturbed soil sites, groundwater remediation of chlorinated solvents or heavy metals, nutrient removal from surface water and the development of microbial enhanced permeable reactive barriers. His mission is to integrate the fields of environmental biotechnology and geotechnical engineering, aiming to develop sustainable solutions, which improve resource efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of civil and mining engineering industry.

Paola 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).

David Frost

J. David Frost, Ph.D., P.E.  Thrust Leader for Cross-Cutting Projects (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 Saenz

Delia 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.

Jennifer Chandler

Jennifer Chandler, Ph.D. Assistant Director for Diversity and Leadership Jennifer Chandler is a Lecturer in the Leadership and Integrative Studies Unit in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at Arizona State University.  Her expertise is in project management and in examining dominant social norms within leadership contexts. Her research interests focus on effective strategies and techniques for recognizing and disrupting dominant norms that perpetuate the systemic and structural marginalization of groups of people. Dr. Chandler has served in the CBBG IDEA Working Group since 2015.  She developed the CBBG Mentor Guide and leads the mentoring training.  Prior to pursuing her graduate degree, Dr. Chandler served over 20 years as a project and program manager for information technology projects undertaken by large multinational corporations and federal agencies.

Nasser Hamdan

Nasser Hamdan, Ph.D. CBBG Industry Collaboration and Innovation Director

Nasser Hamdan is the CBBG Industrial Collaboration and Innovation Director and an Assistant Research Professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment Arizona State University (ASU). In 2009, he returned to ASU to pursue his graduate studies after 10 years as a small business owner and operator. Upon receiving his PhD in biogeotechnics, he worked as a geoenvironmental engineer for a leading global engineering/architecture design firm. Hamdan is also a Senior Investigator in CBBG and has extensive experience coordinating projects that involve integration of multiple disciplines, including geochemistry and microbiology and industry/academia collaboration. He has experience identifying project partnership opportunities and has developed project collaborations with the industry and procured funding for those projects. He is a co-inventor on five U.S. patents for soil stabilization technologies that have applications in geotechnical engineering and environmental engineering. Hamdan has expertise in biogeotechnics with a focus on biogeochemistry. He works on projects for remediation of mining-and agriculturally- impacted waters and soils and on ground improvement projects. He is engaged in projects involving induced mineral precipitation, biological transformations, applied biopolymers, and the beneficial reuse of organic and inorganic waste materials such as plant biomass, urine and steel slag.

Phone: (480) 965-2277, Email: [email protected]


Jean 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.

Charlotte Bowens

Charlotte Bowens Administrative Director

Charlotte Bowens, Administrative Director, started at CBBG in July 2020 and brings 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, she was the Research Advancement Manager for the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University. During her tenure at the University of Michigan she served as the Administrator for the Automotive Research Center and the Senior Research Process Manager for the College of Pharmacy.  Her entrepreneurial endeavors include providing financial, marketing and strategic planning consulting services to tech startups, food entrepreneurs and various emerging small to mid-sized businesses.

Leah Folkestad

Leah Folkstad

Education Coordinator

Michael Edgar

CBBG Student Leadership Council President

Michael Edgar is the President of the CBBG Student Leadership Council. He joined the CBBG in June 2018 working as an undergraduate research assistant using recycled / waste materials to remove nutrients from impacted waters. He continued with the CBBG as a graduate research assistant pursuing a PhD in Environmental Engineering, with research focused on combined physical/biological water treatment processes. Michael has engaged with the CBBG student leadership council as Vice President, Cross-disciplinary lead, and outreach coordinator since Fall 2018.

Mary L. Bankhead

Mary Bankhead, M.A., M.S. Project Coordinator

Mary L. Bankhead joined the CBBG Team in February 2019 as the Project Coordinator/Fiscal Specialist. As the CBBG Project Coordinator, she is responsible for managing day-to-day center operations, assisting with budget oversight and transactions, and supporting all Center team members. With her Master of Arts in Counseling (Northern Arizona University) and Master of Science (Eastern Illinois University), she brings with her over fifteen years of Higher Education Administration experience including Student Affairs, Facilities, Operations, and Finance Management. Prior to joining CBBG, she served in fiscal management and operations roles with Arizona State University and training and facilitation roles with Thunderbird School of Global Management.