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Resilience Engineering
TU DelftTU EindhovenUniversity of TwenteWageningen University
Resilience Engineering


+31(0)6 48 27 55 61


Zhi Cao

Starting from 2021, I hold a tenure-track assistant professor position at the Road Engineering Research Section (RERS), Energy and Materials in Infrastructure and Buildings (EMIB), University of Antwerp, Belgium. Prior to joining the University of Antwerp, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Energy and Resource Systems Analysis Laboratory, Northwestern University, United States, and the Center for Life Cycle Engineering, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark. I earned my PhD from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2017.

My research mainly revolves around the sustainability and resilience of built environments (e.g., roads and buildings) through a lens of climate-material-carbon nexus. I am well-trained in analytical tools capable of understanding the interactions among climate, construction materials, and built environments. I am a mathematical model enthusiast with years of training in interdisciplinary and sustainable infrastructure research and beyond. I have an excellent publication record of interdisciplinary research about the climate-material-carbon nexus associated with built environments, with 10 first-author publications on high-impact journals (e.g., Nature Communications and Environmental Science & Technology) and peer-reviewed journals that are widely accepted in the fields of sustainable infrastructure engineering (e.g., Journal of Cleaner Production, Journal of Industrial Ecology, and Resources, Conservation & Recycling). My previous work has been directly cited by the Energy Technology Perspectives 2020 of the International Energy Agency (IEA) (Chapter 3) and the to-be-released Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (Work Group III, Chapter 5).

Through the 4TU Young Resilience Fellowship, I will collaborate with Prof. João Santos, and our long-term goal is to develop a probabilistic and climate change-aware modeling framework to characterize the material use, energy use, GHG emissions, and monetary costs of road infrastructure. Toward attaining this long-term goal, we will conduct a comprehensive literature review themed around “Incorporating a climate resilience lens into sustainability assessment of road infrastructure”. We expect that our research collaboration will have the following impacts: (1) elucidate the complex climate-material-energy-emission-cost nexus in road infrastructure; (2) identify the opportunities for improving the utility of LCA and LCCA tools of road infrastructure in the context of climate resilience; and (3) provide a better understanding of how to optimize pavement design and management strategies to enhance the sustainability and climate resilience of our transport infrastructure system.

I was a Young Fellow in the 4TU.DeSIRE programme.