Department Research

Our internationally known research programs are devoted to improving civil infrastructure, from roads to bridges to water supply systems. Our faculty and student researchers improve safety and quality of life through research leading to smarter, sustainable infrastructure design.

Our research programs focus on issues relevant to our region, including water scarcity, earthquake engineering, transportation systems for both urban and rural areas, and more. Our department houses a number of competitively funded labs and centers, and our faculty collaborate with researchers around the nation and across the globe.

Areas of research in civil and environmental engineering

Earthquake & Structural

Faculty and students in the structures lab

Research earthquake and structural engineering focuses on bridge engineering, seismic safety and engineering structures for extreme event. Our faculty conduct large-scale, experimental work in our state-of-the-art earthquake engineering labs, featuring four shake tables and two high-bay laboratories.


Two researchers at the high-powered microscope in an environmental engineering lab

Our environmental engineering program is growing quickly. Our faculty specialize in research related to water quality and water supply -- issues that are of particular importance in Nevada, which is the driest state in the U.S. Areas of expertise include water pollution and treatment, with a focus on how climate change, population growth and economic factors impact water quality.


Raj Siddharthan

The geotechnical engineering program focuses on vehicle-pavement interaction, behavior of foundations and retaining structures, and soil-structure interaction. Faculty in this area collaborate closely with faculty in pavements and structural engineering and conduct large-scale experimental work using specially designed soil boxes and tanks.


A researcher inspects pavements samples

Research in pavements engineering and science focuses on developing innovative asphalt mixtures that are cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and durable. Home to the Western Regional Superpave Center, our program features internationally known faculty and a wide network of alumni across industry and academia.


Transportation lab

Faculty in our program have particular expertise with optimizing traffic control systems, use of drones and autonomous systems to improve transportation infrastructure, and simulation and modeling. The program is also the lead institution for a federally funded University Transportation Center focused on transportation issues in Nevada and neighboring states.