Current Research

RESEARCH INTERESTS

 Human-Infrastructure Interactions; Management of critical, civil infrastructure systems; Interdependencies; Vulnerabilities in various categories of cities at the interface of engineering and policy; Impact assessment of population dynamics on the built environment; Shrinking cities; Water sector infrastructure

My research focuses on sociotechnical civil infrastructure systems—defined as those systems that support activities for the well-being and economic livelihood of society—to improve service to communities. This work spans the life cycle of infrastructure systems between the project phase during construction through the operations phase, exploring human-infrastructure interactions, infrastructure interdependencies, and the institutional environment. Select ongoing projects are listed below.

 

POPULATION DYNAMICS AND THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT

RAPID/Collaborative Research: Disaster Migration and Civil Infrastructure: The Impacts of Sudden Population Influxes on Water and Sanitation Infrastructure
Funded by: National Science Foundation, CMMI
Award Number: 1624409; Principal Investigator: Kasey Faust (with Principal Investigator: Jessica Kaminsky at the University of Washington)

Impact of Rapid Population Influx on the Build Environment
Qualitative analyses exploring how normative and cultural-cognitive perturbations, caused by sudden and large population influxes, impact established water and sanitation utilities and housing accommodations. The first phase of this NSF-funded research collaboration is exploring changes in the organizational structure and process of utilities and local governments in the German cities of Munich, Berlin, and Leipzig in response to the current European refugee crisis.

When Does a Right become a Service?
Case Study: Germany general public; Survey analyses and statistical and econometric modeling of the general public perceptions and attitudes towards the provision of different levels of service over different time frames for refugees

Disaster Migration in the US
Survey analyses of  US water and sanitation utilities to discover and document anticipated challenges of extreme population movement in the US context

Socioeconomic Shifts in Population: The Impact of Gentrification on Water Infrastructure Services
Case study: Austin, TX; Network analyses and hydraulic modeling of the shifting water use trends (characteristic to different socioeconomic statuses) to measure the impact on the pressures, fire flows, energy, and water age

Shrinking Cities
Temporal Dynamics of Public Perceptions towards Water Sector Infrastructure before and after the Flint Water Crisis
Survey analyses, qualitative and content analyses, and statistical and econometric modeling of responses from of 21 US shrinking cities (including Flint, MI) of surveys developed and deployed before and after the Flint Water Crisis to assess the temporal dynamics of trust; participatory processes; usage of bottled water/tap water for household tasks; perceived financial responsibility of infrastructure; public knowledge of physical infrastructure system; perception towards infrastructure alternatives; and willingness to pay for services

Willingness to Pay for Water/Wastewater Services and Perceived Water Quality
Survey analyses and statistical and econometric modeling of responses from of 21 US shrinking cities (including Flint, MI) of surveys developed and deployed before and after the Flint Water Crisis to assess the temporal willingness to pay for services resulting in perceived increase in water quality; relationship between willingness to pay and perceived water quality

The Impact of Rightsizing on Water Infrastructure Services
Case studies: Flint and Saginaw, MI; Network analyses and hydraulic modeling of retooling alternatives to measure the impact on the pressures, fire flows, energy, and water age

Water Sector Interdependencies
Agent based modeling and system dynamics; Deeper evaluation of the intrinsically interdependent water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure systems quantifying the endogenous, physical interdependencies, and the exogenous, complex human interactions

 

HUMAN-INFRASTRUCTURE INTERACTIONS

Stated Preference versus Revealed Preference: The Case of Water Use and Conservation
Case Study: Austin, TX; Survey analyses, qualitative and content analyses, and statistical and econometric modeling of responses from the general public in Austin matched with respondent specific billing/consumption data (provided by the utility) to assess how perceived conservation and measurable conservation differ; how location throughout city impacts water use and conservation; how demographics impact usage of bottled and tap, with regard to perceived odor and taste; and the disconnect of knowledge regarding infrastructure responsibility post water meter

Infrastructure Interdependencies in the Colonias: Policy Interdependencies at the Water-Energy Nexus to Increase Service Access
Case Study: Hidalgo County;  Mixed qualitative-quantitative approach  to assess the statistical relationships between infrastructure characteristics present in the colonias, and the efficacy of creating an interdependency via policy between receiving electricity service and water service to increase service access in informal, low-income communities

Food Desert Modeling and Optimization: A Systematic Approach to Expanding Food Access
Case study: Austin, Texas; Modeling food deserts using object oriented programming to simulate how the agents within a neighborhood access food markets; Assessment of system-wide infrastructure disruptors to increase accessibility or eliminate food deserts in low-income areas

 

INFRASTRUCTURE CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

IAC TASK 16   Estimating Engineering Level of Effort (LOE) for Bridge Replacement Projects
Funded by TXDOT
Case study: Texas; Assessment of 40 bridge replacement projects, using supporting construction documents, contracts, and subject matter experts, to understand the drivers of and predict man-hour requirements

Construction Engineering And Inspection (CE&I) Staffing
Funded by TxDOT, in collaboration with Dr. Bill O’Brien (PI) and Nabeel Khwaja, explores TxDOT’s construction engineering and inspection (CE&I) needs within respect to outsourcing staff for project-level functions

BIM-based Construction Waste Estimation and Disposal Planning Tool
Funded by UT Office of Sustainability with Dr. Fernanda Leite (Co-PI)
The project aims at developing a software tool that will leverage Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology for the quantification of waste generated from construction projects, as well as the disposal planning of the generated waste. It will deliver a BIM-based executable software tool, providing automated, fast and accurate estimates of construction waste, along with a software documentation to be provided as a user guide. The proposed tool would contribute not only to the social aspect of sustainability at UT, but also to its environmental and economic aspects.

Temporary, Semi-Permanent, and Permanent Infrastructure and Facilities on Expeditionary Military Bases 
Case Study: Two Middle Eastern military bases; Assess the use of and decision-making behind temporary, semi-permanent, and permanent infrastructure and facilities on expeditionary bases to understand the implementation, maintenance and operations of the built environment in (originally) intended temporary bases