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Ana Bras

Ana Bras

reader (associate professor), Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU)


Design, Construction, Environmental Management


United Kingdom
My highlights

Receiving my PhD

Travelling the world to help solve infrastructure challenges

Becoming an ICE policy fellow

A day in my life

My days are varied and rewarding, ranging from lecture-hall discussions with the engineers of tomorrow to breakthroughs in research that may one day offer practical guidance on how we build the world around us.  

Planning and building sustainable infrastructures is crucial - our industry is still generally unskilled in this area and this needs to change.

Which individual project or person inspired you to become a civil engineer?

My parents challenged me to develop critical and analytical thinking in the engineering field.

They taught me how to develop spirit, curiosity and belief in how to make things happen.

This inspired me to pursue my career in civil engineering.

We asked Ana…

I would recommend a career in civil engineering because…

As a civil engineer you will develop critical thinking skills, which will allow you to be at the forefront of change that will benefit of society at large.

Civil engineers can work towards sustainable cities and communities, help industry to innovate and improve infrastructure in face of the climate action.

We must all continue to challenge the way we work, embedding sustainable practice into the delivery of all that we do.

Complete this phrase: I’m a civil engineer, but I’m also…

I’m a civil engineer, but I'm also a wannabe cross-country mountain biker.

It's a great chance to discover new landscapes, cultures and people.

My family also love it, meaning that I have the pleasure of enjoying the journey with them also.

What about being a civil engineer gets you out of bed each morning?

Civil engineering has given me the scope to work in many roles, sharing my knowledge and being part of the global conversation on sustainable solutions. 

What’s one great thing that you love about civil engineering that you didn’t know until you started working in the industry?

It's a great opportunity to discuss solutions with engineers from different cultures and backgrounds and I learn so much from this.

What we might take for granted in life such as access to transportation, hospitals, clean water and so on, is not a reality for all.

Planning and building sustainable infrastructures is crucial - our industry is still generally unskilled in this area and this needs to change.

Name one civil engineering myth you’d like to bust.

There’s a common misconception that civil engineers are boring, and it couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, it’s completely the opposite as our position leads us to interact with so many other people.

Ana's career path

After starting out in structural design, I went on to become a Chartered Engineer, a fellow and most recently a policy fellow with the ICE.

Upon receiving my PhD in 2011, I began using my knowledge to explore performance-based design approaches, targeting ways to both extend the service life of and, at the same time, lower the embodied carbon of infrastructure.

After working in a number or research roles in Brazil, Portugal and the UK, I began lecturing on sustainable construction, teaching in various engineering and architectural schools.

I now work at LJMU as a reader in bio-materials for infrastructure, leading several projects all focussing on decarbonising infrastructure and increasing resilience to climate change effects.

Major projects

  • UK/Malaysia: sustainable innovation and skills for rail and seaports infrastructure aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  • India: a self-healing house restoring power and safety to thousands of households.
  • Pakistan: building coastal resilient infrastructure in Gwadar Port.
  • Ghana: increasing the resilience of houses constructed from earth.