Office of Materials and Infrastructure

Our office focuses on transportation research areas such as construction, environmental, geotechnical-structures, and pavement. We develop and recommend research budget levels and projects to be included in the Department's Annual State Planning and Research Work Plan. We focus on roadway or pavement related research such as construction, maintenance, and design. We are involved in contract research coordination, project monitoring, and dissemination of final research results. We work with Caltrans and University staff to assure completion of roadway and or pavement research studies.  

Nick Burmas, Chief
Email Nick Burmas
(916) 227-6194

What We Do

  • Manage and deploy the California ShakeCast system for emergency response to seismic events
  • Develop tools and techniques to improve transportation project development costs
  • Develop tools and techniques to improve life-cycle cost of infrastructures
  • Research new techniques for forecasting and mitigating transportation systems' negative environmental impacts
  • Constantly strive to meet Caltrans' lawful obligations
  • Work to promote sustainability
  • Focus research on safer, more cost effective bridges and highway facilities
  • Emphasize earthquake, landslide, and other geologic hazards mitigation
  • Work on improving policies and operations
  • Preserve and enhance California's pavement resources and investments
  • Steadily work towards meeting Caltrans' goals for improvement

Office of Materials and Infrastructure Branches

Roadway and Multidisciplinary Integration

Michael Samadian, Chief

Email Michael Samadian
(916) 227-6207

Our team seeks ways to improve pavement quality across California. Our focus, through our partnership with industry, academia, internal and external customers, is to provide research that leads to deploying product, technique, and tools.

Our main focus:

  • Pavement Preservation
  • Roadway construction - efficiency alternatives
  • Construction traffic analysis and improvement
  • Pavement material testing and development
  • Construction cost reduction
  • Management of Universities and Consultants pavement research

Roadway and Multidisciplinary Integration

Brian Chiou, Senior Seismologist (Specialist)
Email Brian Chiou
(916) 227-7151

We are responsible for the management and performance of engineering seismology research. We provide models and tools for seismic hazard assessment. We study the specification of earthquake design ground motion needed by Caltrans to improve safety, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of the transportation network.

Our studies focus on:

  • Development of strong ground motion database
  • Ground-motion prediction models
  • Near-fault ground motion characteristics
  • Seismic hazard analysis

Geology Integrations

Joe Holland, Senior Transportation Engineer, CT (Specialist)
Email Joe Holland
(916) 227-5825

Durability is important to the long-term efficiency of our transportation system. Our responsibilities include increasing durability results in reduced maintenance, extended life of facilities, and reduced impacts to the public.

Research Topics:

  • Maintenance operations and improvements
  • Material durability
  • Non-destructive testing
  • Highway durability
  • Asset Management
  • Sustainability Practices
  • Pavement Recycling
  • Improved Pavement Structure Design

Environmental Influences

Simon Bisrat, Senior Environmental Planner (Specialist)
Email Simon Bisrat
(916) 227-2612 

The overarching goal of our research is to support sustainable transportation system for California by developing ways to reduce and mitigate environmental impacts of transportation projects. We specifically develop and implement new techniques for forecasting and mitigating environmental impacts from transportation projects and to bring the benefits of other environmental research efforts to Caltrans personnel.

Research topics:

  • Identify rare species using environmental DNA
  • Analyze road impact to sensitive species using landscape genomics
  • Develop engineering solutions for wildlife crossing and fish passage
  • Reduce wildlife and vehicle collision
  • Develop new methods to analyze air and noise impact
  • Develop improved BMP’s for stormwater management
  • Reduce greenhouse gasses and adaptation to climate change
  • Conduct road surface research for a quieter pavement
  • Geospatial data research

Geotechnical Research

Cliff Roblee, Senior Materials & Research Engineer (Specialist)
Email Cliff Roblee
(916) 227-7183

Tom Shantz, Senior Materials & Research Engineer (Specialist)
Email Tom Shantz
(916) 227-7245

Our research is broadly focused on assessing the risks and effects of geotechnical hazards on Caltrans built infrastructure and operations. We also provide expertise in geotechnical and geophysical methods for site characterization and earthquake site response.

Currently active research topics:

  • Seismic Bridge Fragility
  • Landslide Inventory Hazards