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CEE Department Adds Two Bright Young Faculty Members in September

Jimi B. Oke

Jimi B. Oke

Christian D. Guzman

Christian D. Guzman

Two highly accomplished young academics will begin teaching and researching as assistant professors in the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department this September in the persons of Dr. Jimi B. Oke and Dr. Christian D. Guzman.

Oke comes to the CEE department from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he has been serving as a postdoctoral associate since September of 2016 and is the project manager for the Future Urban Mobility study in the MIT Energy Initiative. As Oke describes his research, “I am a systems researcher primarily investigating complex interactions at the transportation-energy nexus. My vision is for tightly-integrated societies where information, technology, and operations are effectively harnessed for sustainability, accessibility, and resilience in their undergirding systems.”

Oke adds that “I aim to achieve this by developing transferable and relevant tools for researchers, planners, and policymakers alike in order to improve our urban and global spaces, one solution at a time, and to get this done with the least amount of overhead possible. Effective research must therefore be shareable, reproducible, and relevant.”

Besides being an accomplished academic, Oke, who hails from Ibadan, Nigeria, is also a gifted classical and jazz guitarist after having completed majors in physics and music at Williams College. In 2016 Oke obtained his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from The Johns Hopkins University at the Mathematical Optimization for Decisions Lab. There he worked on problems in schematic mapping, global bicycling, and multimodal energy network modeling.

At Johns Hopkins Oke received a Gordon Croft Fellowship, a Civil Engineering Graduate Service Award, a Teaching-as-Research Fellowship, an Educational Training Core Traineeship, and a Whiting School of Engineering Research Fellowship, among other accomplishments.

Guzman comes to UMass Amherst from Washington State University, where he has been a postdoctoral research associate since 2017. Among his rich experience he has also served in Bahir Dar University as a collaborator and visiting researcher from 2010-2014. He has further served in 2015 as an adjunct instructor at Cornell’s CienciAmerica Latina American Studies Program, in 2014 as a visiting researcher at the CIAT-International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia, and in 2013 as a visiting researcher at the Panamerican School of Agriculture at Zamorano in Honduras.

Guiding Guzman’s efforts across these experiences is an interest in focusing on the soil and water resources at various scales within watersheds that contribute food, energy, water, and societal needs. Along with collaborators from a variety of disciplines, Guzman investigates soil surface dynamics, surface water quality degradation, and socio-hydrological development. Specifically, he aims to pursue scholarship with a socio-hydrological perspective that benefits the local community, nation, and the world, including marginalized and underserved communities.

Guzman conducted postdoctoral research at Washington State University on food-energy-water system nexus innovations for the Columbia River Basin, hydrological and sediment modeling in the inland Pacific Northwest, and climatic and anthropological impacts on water storages in the Americas. Prior to that, his doctoral research at Cornell included sediment transport, nutrient depletion, and hydrological variations in sub-humid climates, as well as ethnography of soil degradation perceptions. This work has been published as 20 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Among other honors, Guzman has received the USDA NIFA Postdoctoral Fellowship, the NSF GROW/USAID Research and Innovation Fellowship, the U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security Program Award, the CUAHSI Pathfinder Graduate Student Fellowship, the Food Systems and Poverty Reduction IGERT Fellowship, an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, and the State University of New York Diversity Fellowship.

Guzman earned his Ph.D. and Master of Science from Cornell in Biological and Environmental Engineering and his B.S. from the University of Florida in Agricultural and Biological Engineering. (September 2019)