Michele Barbato named faculty director of CITRIS Climate initiative

A muddy shoreline reflecting blue skies and white clouds.

CITRIS and the Banatao Institute welcome Michele Barbato, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Davis, as faculty director of the CITRIS Climate initiative. 

Portrait of Michele Barbato

A structural engineer by training, Barbato studied earthquake engineering as an undergraduate student in Italy and graduate student at UC San Diego. After receiving his doctorate, he expanded his research to include wind, hurricane, wildfire and multihazard engineering, with the aim of improving society’s ability to adapt to the stresses of climate change. He co-founded the UC Davis Climate Adaptation Research Center (CARC) in 2019 to help develop competitive multidisciplinary teams for broad climate research endeavors. 

As faculty lead of CITRIS Climate, Barbato will foster multidisciplinary collaboration across the four UC CITRIS campuses — Berkeley, Davis, Merced and Santa Cruz — to develop a robust research agenda on applications of information technology to mitigate harms from climate change and foster resilience. The newly revised initiative will expand the research scope of the former CITRIS Sustainable Infrastructures initiative and leverage the strengths of the California Institute for Energy and Environment (CIEE) at CITRIS and CARC to build a core group of researchers and educators at the interface of climate change research and IT. 

“I am thrilled and honored to be named as the faculty director of the CITRIS Climate initiative,” said Barbato. “I look forward to working with the experts at CIEE and within the other CITRIS initiatives to explore technology interventions related to climate resilience and sustainability with a focus on environmental justice, equity, and inclusion.” 

CITRIS Climate will support the goal of carbon neutrality at the UC system level and beyond, with attention to issues of climate justice and equity to mitigate the negative effects of climate change that are disproportionately experienced by underrepresented and underserved communities and populations. Barbato said that partnering with other well-established research units, such as the John Muir Institute of the Environment and the Air Quality Research Center at UC Davis, is also critical to his vision. 

“We are delighted to welcome Professor Barbato to the CITRIS leadership team and look forward to strengthening connections with researchers in related fields across the CITRIS ecosystem,” said CITRIS Director Costas Spanos. “Addressing climate change and its formidable effects on people, property and livelihoods will require the kind of multidisciplinary approach that CITRIS is well positioned to catalyze. We are grateful to previous leaders of climate and sustainability initiatives at CITRIS for providing a strong foundation on which to build the next phase of exploration and solutions.”

Barbato’s appointment is effective Oct. 1.