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Research & Impact

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The CEE department conducts cutting-edge engineering research that expands knowledge and creates new methods and designs needed in the natural and built environments to sustain people and nature. Our research focal areas are the built environment, the natural environment, and engineered civil and environmental systems.

Built Environment

We focus on sustainable and resilient built infrastructure, the role of the built environment in supporting society and human health, and integrated project delivery. We advance performance-based design and assessment by integrating hazard characterization, computational simulation of physical systems, and loss assessment to create performance metrics that support technical, financial, and societal decision-making. We discover new linkages and create novel methods to design, build, and operate cities to have reduced life cycle costs, support people, and have a positive impact on the natural environment. We leverage numerical simulation, laboratory experiments, and field observations to study natural and climate-induced hazards. We combine advances in sensing and networks, AI, and data science to create novel approaches to managing city infrastructure. We pioneer new management approaches to enable technical solutions for sustainable built environments to be deployed at scale.

Natural Environment

We focus on resilient and sustainable water, coastal environments for people and ecosystems, and the role of the natural environment in human health. We design solutions to provide sustainable water management in a carbon-constrained world including innovation in water and wastewater treatment technologies, optimization of water infrastructure design and management practices, applying engineering strategies to minimize negative ecosystem impacts, design and analysis of water policies, and creation of knowledge and solutions needed to ensure sustained, equitable access to water and sanitation services. We apply cutting-edge field observation techniques, laboratory experiments, and computational modeling and data science approaches in environmental fluid mechanics to study the movement of water and sediment to promote healthy ecosystems. We conduct research on the sources, fate, and transport of pathogens transmitted through the environment by water, on surfaces, and through air.

Engineered Civil and Environmental Systems

Linking our research on built and natural environments we have expertise and deep engagement in research on engineered civil and environmental systems. These systems include urban systems and their integration, renewable energy systems, sustainable water systems, and both natural and engineered material systems. We develop methods and models to understand the complex interactions between urban systems (e.g., building-energy, energy-water) and leverage new information systems to enhance our understanding of human behavior and associated infrastructure demand. We study resource availability for renewable energy, matching of supply with instantaneous demand, energy flow in cities, and the design and operation of zero-energy buildings. We develop high performance computational methods to better understand engineered and natural material systems that are the core building blocks of sustainable civil and environmental infrastructure.


Explore our research focus areas with our Faculty and Centers

Individual Faculty Research Groups

Research Centers

We Co-create Solutions with External Collaborators

Through close affiliations with industry, utilities, nonprofits, and governmental agencies, our research insights and the technologies we create are applied in practice.

Collaborate as an Industry Affiliate

Collaborate with the Doerr School Sustainability Accelerator

Collaborate with the Doerr School's Institutes

Student Research Opportunities 

The Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering offers several programmatic as well as informal research opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students. Faculty, staff, and students from distinct research areas work as teams on projects within the department, with other collaborators at Stanford, and at other universities worldwide. Special research opportunities are available to undergraduate students every summer, working closely with faculty members. We encourage student initiative in conceiving and conducting research. 

Stanford Student Research Opportunities

Students at whiteboard
VPUE Summer Undergrad Research Program 
Graduate Student Research
Woods Insitute MUIR program                                                                                                           

Research Opportunities for those outside of Stanford

SURGE cohort
Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)
Sustainability Undergraduate Research in Geoscience and Engineering Program (SURGE)