In the Spotlight: Dr. Minghao Li

UBC Forestry is excited to welcome Dr. Minghao Li, Associate Professor in Sustainable Timber-build Environment, to the Department of Wood Science. With an extensive research background in high-performance engineered wood products and connection systems, multi-story mass timber and timber-steel hybrid structures, Dr. Li joins our newly formed Wood Building Science and Technology Cluster to continue to advance innovative solutions to complex structural issues.

In our interview below, we join Dr. Li to learn more about what drew him to his work, his hopes for the future of sustainable buildings, and what he’s most excited about at UBC.

Dr. Minghao Li

Tell us about yourself!

“My name is Dr. Minghao Li, and I’m joining as a new Associate Professor in the Department of Wood Science. I received my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Civil and Structural Engineering at Tongji University, in China and my Ph.D. degree from UBC. From 2014 to 2022, I worked as a Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor and chaired the Structures Cluster in the Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.”

Can you give us an overview of your research? What drew you to this work?

“My research areas include multi-story and tall timber structures; engineered timber products and connections; and innovative seismic design technologies for mass timber and timber-hybrid structures. The global trend of building larger and taller structures with wood has imposed significant challenges for engineering design. Conventional timber building technologies are struggling to provide sound and reliable solutions to meet building code requirements. My work aims to expand the use of wood into larger building applications that used to be dominated by concrete or steel and develop innovative solutions for timber buildings that can achieve both cost efficiency and structural efficiency.”

What types of questions do you attempt to address in your research?

“Some typical research questions are: Can we develop innovative/better solutions to improve structural performance and reduce construction cost for timber buildings? Can we develop innovative seismic bracing systems that can not only protect lives but also reduce repair cost after a major event? How can we improve building resilience under natural hazards?”

What do you hope to see for the future of sustainable timber building solutions? 

“We aim to develop a holistic solution for safe, resilient, affordable and sustainable timber buildings that meet all societal, economic and environmental expectations.”

What are some of your favourite examples of building structures that exemplify your research? 

“There are a few buildings on UBC campus, such as the Earth Science Buildings and Brock Commons, that adopt innovative timber or timber hybrid technologies and my research aims to make contributions in those areas.”

What are you looking forward to most here at UBC?

“BC is leading the world in tall and mass timber building applications and innovations. UBC has also become a global leader delivering research and teaching excellence in the sustainable timber-built environment. I look forward to contributing to innovative timber solutions and helping establish a successful course-based master program that educates more qualified design professionals with mass timber expertise.”

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