CalGeo Student Membership

Undergraduate and graduate CalGeo student members benefit from a deeply connected geotechnical profesional network. If you are interested in joining the UCSD CalGeo chapter, please email For more information regarding CalGeo membership, visit

Faculty Members
Ahmed-Waeil M. Elgamal, PhD (Community Advisor)

Ahmed Elgamal is a professor in the Department of Structural Engineering at the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering. Prior to UCSD, Elgamal was a faculty member at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Columbia University, and technical director for the Rensselaer Geotechnical Centrifuge Research Center. He studied Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at Cairo University (B.Sc.), and Princeton University (M.A. and Ph.D.), and was a research fellow at CalTech. He is a recipient of the Shamsher Prakash Award and the NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award. Elgamal was also a Lilly Teaching Fellow (1991-1992). He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Professor Elgamal served as chair of the Department of Structural Engineering from 2003 to 2007.

Professor Elgamal is an expert in earthquake engineering and computational geomechanics. Incorporation of emerging information technologies into structural engineering is currently one of his main research areas. Internet applications include sensor networks for monitoring our civil infrastructure, with real-time condition assessment and decision-making algorithms. Integration of research and education with live web-accessible experiments is a main component.

Current Student Members
Ahmed Ebeido, M.S. (President)

Ahmed Ebeido is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Structural Engineering at University of California, San Diego. He has been working as a Graduate Research Assistant for Professor Ahmed Elgamal on lateral spreading and liquefaction effects on pile foundations since September 2014. He received a departmental fellowship for the school year of 2014-2015. His research interests include geotechnical earthquake engineering, soil-structure interaction and foundation engineering. He received his M.Sc. in Structural Engineering from Faculty of Engineering, Alexandria University in June 2014 with thesis titled The effect of pile spacing on group behavior. During his M.Sc studies, he worked for a structural engineering consultancy and then a geotechnical and marine design firm. Ahmed obtained his B.Sc in Civil Engineering from Faculty of Engineering, Alexandria University in June 2012 and graduated top of his class with distinction with honors.
Yewei Zheng, M.S., Ph.D

Yewei Zheng is currently a Post Doc in the Department of Structural Engineering at University of California, San Diego (UCSD). He received his M.Sc. in Geotechnical Engineering from University of Oklahoma (OU) and B.E. in Civil Engineering from Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) in Wuhan, China. He is now working on numerical simulations and reduced-scale shake table tests of geosynthetic-reinforced soil bridge abutments under the supervision of Professor Patrick J. Fox and Professor John S. McCartney. In this study, reduced-scale shake table tests will be conducted to characterize the seismic performance of GRS bridge abutments. Numerical simulations will be performed to investigate the behavior of full-scale GRS bridge abutments under seismic loading. Results of this study will be used for developing seismic design guidelines for GRS bridge abutments.
Ismaail Ghaaowd, M.Eng. (Geo-Institute President)

Mr. Ismaail Ghaaowd is PhD candidate at the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering, Department of Structural Engineering. His main research area is the thermal soil improvement. He is conducting centrifuge tests, triaxial tests, and analytical modeling to accomplish his research. In addition, he is doing some large scale shear tests to study the shearing properties of tire chips. Mr.Ghaaowd received his Master of Engineering from Tripoli University, Tripoli, Libya, in 2008, and Bachelors of Civil Engineering from the same university, in 2004. Mr. Ghaaowd involved in many of civil engineering projects in Libya from 2005 to 2008 as supervision engineer. Mr.Ghaaowd worked as executive manager of consulting company from 2008 to 2012. He designed and supervised major geotechnical and civil engineering projects in Libya. Mr.Ghaaowd was a teaching assistance in Tripoli University from 2005 to 2008, lecturer at the same university from 2008 to 2012, and taught some courses such as geotechnical engineering, soil mechanics, and foundation engineering.
Robert Caulk, M.S. (Webmaster)

Robert is currently a PhD student at UCSD working to improve the viability of sedimentary based Enhanced Geothermal Systems. His research is focused on computationally investigating fracture mechanisms associated with hydraulic fracture propagation. In addition to open source discrete element code development, he has experimentally investigated fracture aperture/permeability change in EGS, he has optimized energy pile heat exchanger layouts, and he has demonstrated the viability of reusing abandoned oil and gas wells for geothermal purposes.
John Li, M.S. (Treasurer)

John Li is pursuing a PhD degree under supervision of Professor Ahmed Elgamal. He was born in the United States, and have lived in Los Angeles, California before the college. He held both BS and MS degrees at UCSD structural engineering. He has been working with Professor Elgamal since he was a senior student. His current research focuses on soil-structure-interaction for large embedded structures, more specifically a two scaled models of a nuclear power plant in close proximity. In the scope of this research, he made use of the available data to extract the soil properties, which were shown to provide a reasonable match to the recorded data. Using the extracted properties, a parametric computational study was conducted to illustrate the salient mechanisms associated with the seismic response of such large embedded structural systems.
Leticia Nocko, M.S. (Vice President)

Leticia M. Nocko is a Ph.D. student at the Department of Structural Engineering of University of California, San Diego (UCSD). She received her bachelor degree from Environmental Engineering and M.Sc. in Civil Construction Engineering from Federal University of Parana (UFPR), in Brazil. Prior to joining UCSD graduate school she worked for two years as an Assistant Professor at UFPR. Under the supervision of Prof. John S. McCartney, she is currently working on a project about the use of the heat generated in sanitary landfills as a heat source for ground-source heat pumps. Her research interests are mainly the environmental geotechnics and municipal solid waste (MSW). She previously worked on mathematical modeling of the mechanical behavior of MSW using humic acid to induce water repellency in soils used in cover systems of landfills.
Wenyong Rong, M.S. (Secretary)

Wenyong Rong is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Structural Engineering at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) under the co-instruction of Professor John S. McCartney and Professor Patrick J. Fox starting September 2015. Before being a Ph.D. student, he served as a research assistant performing centrifuge test of reinforced gabion walls under the instruction of Professor Hoe I. Ling at Columbia University. He received his M.Sc. in Civil Engineering from Columbia University in 2015 and B.E. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from North China Electric Power University in Beijing, China in 2013.
Abdullah Almutairi (Competition coordinator)

From the earthquake engineering point of view, Highway Bridges are among the critical lifelines that receive much attention. Smooth operation of the Highway system after a major earthquake, facilitates the critical rescue and recovery efforts. Disruption of function can also result in substantial wide-scale economic consequences. In this context, the seismic response of bridge seismic response is being investigated from a system level perspective. The deck, columns, abutments, and foundation response mechanisms are integrated within a unified framework. Systematic evaluation of the global system response is conducted under a wide range of expected earthquake input shaking scenarios. For that purpose, calibrated computational models and representative site specific recorded ground motions are employed. Results of this study are presented, for a number of large bridges with different structural response characteristics, in terms of the bridge geometric configuration, spatial extent, and the underlying ground/foundation properties. Insights are drawn, along with recommendations for routine application of the developed state-of-the art analysis techniques.

Additional members:

Kaitlin Marley (PhD student)
Muhammad Zayed (PhD student)
Lan Luo (MSc student)
Kyungtae Kim (Postdoctoral researcher)
Zhijian Qui (PhD student)