Sarah Billington


Sarah Billington is Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Stanford University and the Milligan Family Fellow in Undergraduate Education. Prof. Billington received her B.S.E. in Civil Engineering & Operations Research with high honors from Princeton University in 1990. She was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to study civil engineering at the ETH-Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) in 1991. She received her M.S. (1994) and Ph.D (1997) in structural engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Prof. Billington was Assistant Professor of Structural Engineering at the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University from 1997-2002. She joined the Faculty at Stanford University in 2003. She has twice been a visiting professor in the Computational Mechanics group in Civil Engineering at the Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands, first in 1998 and most recently for the 2008-2009 academic year.

Hai Haham

Post Doctoral Scholar

I am a first-year postdoc working jointly with Prof. Sarah Billington in Civil & Environmental Engineering and Prof. Curtis Frank in Chemical Engineering. I came here with my wife and son from Israel, where I did my Ph.D. in Materials Chemistry at Bar-Ilan University. My current research is focused on fabrication of biodegradable polymeric foams for building applications. I am focusing on a bacteria-produced biopolymer and aiming to improve its properties with natural and recycled materials. My personal interests include reading, jogging, beer brewing, and hiking.

Yi Shao

PhD Student

I am a Ph.D. candidate in Structural Engineering. I received my B.S. (2015) in Structural Engineering from Hunan University, and my M.S. (2017) in Structural Engineering from Stanford University. My current research is focused on improving the design methods of reinforced High-performance Fiber-reinforced Concrete (HPFRC) flexural members. Specifically, I aim to improve the prediction methods for serviceability, flexural strength, and failure modes of reinforced HPFRC, and to improve the design tools that optimize the topology of reinforced HPFRC structures. My personal interests include cooking, photography, jogging, golf, and travelling.  You can visit my personal website here:

Wenhao Chen

PhD Student

I come from Shandong, China, the hometown of Confucius. I started my study in structural engineering at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering degree in 2011.  I finished my Masters degree at Stanford in 2013 and continued as a PhD student of Professor Sarah Billington and Professor Oliver Fringer.  My research topic is the stability assessment of bridge infrastructure under scour conditions.  I focus on numerical modeling of scour formation processes and bridge foundation stability.  In addition to academia, sports are my favorite. I love soccer and basketball. Inter Milan will be always my top club, and then, Go Warriors and Atlanta Hawks.

Basma Altef

PhD Student

I am a first-year PhD student in Civil and Environmental Engineering here at Stanford. I received my bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Pakistan, MSc in Sustainable Architecture from University of Edinburgh, UK, and MS in Sustainable Design and Construction at Stanford. I am interested in conducting research around innovative and sustainable material options and how these can be used to design better and healthier buildings. I am currently conducting research on the use of biochar and recycled glass powder in cement-based materials for enhanced material sustainability, thermal and acoustic insulation, and bioreceptivity.

Belle Douglas

PhD Student

I am a first year PhD student in the Sustainable Design and Construction Program at Stanford. I received my MS degree from Stanford in the same program in the structural track, which means I took classes both in construction management and structural design/analysis. I received my BSE degree from Princeton University in a joint program between the architectrue and civil engineering departments. Not surprisingly, I am most interested in interdisciplinary study that bridges the realms of construction, engienering, and architecture thorugh design and materials. I received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship with the intention of pursuing such interests through research. Currently I am conducting research for the Hybrid Physical+DIgital Spaces project, which aligns well with my personal research interests. Some other personal interests are ceramics (which I have done for 9 years), tennis, cooking, and home improvement shows!

James Bicamumpaka


I am a first-year undergraduate student from the Kingdom of eSwatini majoring in Structural Engineering here at Stanford. My interest in structures was first triggered at the University of Cape Town where I spent a semester doing Civil Engineering and found myself captivated by how this discipline can be used as a tool to create, improve and maintain our modern world in order for human prosperity and development. My current research interests include analyzing how variations in geographic location and human culture affect the structural design and choice of building material for buildings across the globe. I am presently conducting research on the flexural behavior and design methodology for High-Performance Fiber-reinforced Concrete (HPFRC), a topic I have found quite interesting! When I am not in the lab, you can find me hosting events across campus, socializing with friends, longboarding or taking walks along Halfmoon Bay State Beach!

Paula Garza


My research interests are in construction materials and alternative materials for architecture models. I am researching the impact of building materials and designs on wellbeing with a focus on schools. I am also conducting education research with John Barton, Director of the Architectural Design Program at Stanford, analyzing Harkness methods in classes.

Luoyi Yang

MS Student

I am a MS student in the Structural Engineering and Geomechanics Program at Stanford. I received my BS degree in Civil Engineering from The Ohio State University. My research interests include exploring the built environment and building materials that can improve wellbeing of the occupants. Currently, I am working with Basma on the concrete incorporating biochar as wall panels that can support thermal comfort as well as bring nature to the building by growing plants on the wall panels. We are conducting experiments on determining thermal properties (i.e., thermal conductivity, specific heat) of the concrete with biochar. My other personal interests include listening to music, playing badminton, and travelling.