Three new faculty members join civil and environmental engineering


By Jennifer Matthews

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering added three new faculty members this semester.

Michael Hillman joined the department as an assistant professor and was given the L. Robert and Mary L. Kimball Faculty Early Career Development Professorship. He received a master’s degree and doctorate in civil engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His doctoral focus was on computational mechanics.

Prior to coming to Penn State, Hillman worked for three years as a postdoctoral scholar at UCLA in the civil and environmental engineering department and as postdoctoral scholar for the Center for Extreme Events research in the structural engineering department at the University of California, San Diego. He was also an instructor for both schools.

As an assistant professor at Penn State, Hillman will be teaching Structural Analysis in the fall and Meshfree Methods in the spring.

Li Li joined the department as an associate professor in environmental engineering. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in environmental chemistry from Nanjing University and a doctorate in environmental engineering and water resources from Princeton University.

Prior to coming to the department, Li worked for Penn State’s John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering. She has also worked for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as a postdoctoral scholar and research scientist.

Li was invited to participate in the U.S. Frontiers of Engineering Symposium by the National Academy of Engineering in 2015. She was also awarded the Wilson Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2015 and the Wilson Initiation Award in 2010 from the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Penn State.

Her research interests involve working at the interface of environmental engineering, water resources and biogeochemistry. She is interested in understanding complex interactions between flow, transport and multi-component biogeochemical reactions in natural systems with the goal of developing models and theoretical framework for predicting and forecasting how natural environments respond to changing climate and anthropogenic perturbations.

As an associate professor at Penn State, Li will be teaching Introduction to Environmental Engineering, Water Quality Chemistry and Water Quality Chemistry Lab. She will also be teaching Reactive Transport in Natural Systems and Environmental Science & Engineering Topics at the graduate level.

Cibin Raj joined Penn State as an assistant professor and joint hire between the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.  He received a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from Kerala Agricultural University, his master's degree in civil engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and his doctorate in agricultural and biological engineering from Purdue University. 

Prior to joining Penn State, Raj was a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University where he taught courses in computer modeling in environmental and natural resources and ecohydrology.   

He has been published in 14 peer reviewed journal articles and has presented his work at approximately 60 national and international conferences. He also holds professional memberships with the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, American Geophysical Union, International Association of Hydrological Sciences, American Water Resources Association and Indiana Water Resources Association.

His research interests include storm water management, watershed modeling, application of optimization tools in watershed analysis and ecohydrological impacts of climate and land use change.


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Jennifer Matthews



The Penn State Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, established in 1881, is internationally recognized for excellence in the preparation of undergraduate and graduate engineers through the integration of education, research, and leadership.

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

212 Sackett Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-1408

Phone: 814-863-3084