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Digital Roads of the Future


Name: Dr Zizhen Xu

Academic Division: Civil Engineering

Research Group:  Digital Roads of the Future

Fellowship period: 1 January 2024 – 02 January 2027



Research Interests

Dr. Zizhen Xu's research interests lie at the intersection of resilience of urban infrastructure systems, climate change adaptation, and sustainability. Specifically, he applies complex network theory to explore the disaster resilience of interconnected and interdependent infrastructure systems, with a particular focus on transportation systems.

Strategic Themes




Research Project

Title: Assessing road infrastructure resilience against extreme weather events and fostering climate change adaptation

Theme: Sustainability

Abstract: Infrastructure resilience is increasingly recognized as a crucial aspect of national security, especially considering climate change threats. Interest and efforts in this field are escalating, offering solutions for climate change adaptation parallel to ongoing mitigation strategies such as decarbonization. There is imperative need of resilience engineering in critical infrastructure sectors that daily lives depend on. Conventional risk management strategies are showing limitations when facing the challenges -- the uncertainty of changing environment and the growing complexity of infrastructure systems. This project is proposed to tackle these challenges through a complex network approach that integrates risk assessment with resilience framework encompassing preparing, absorbing, and recovery phase. We will develop the approach with a case study of UK national highways. A spatial network model will be employed to assess the infrastructure resilience, including quantifying the infrastructure’s exposure to potential extreme weather events, examining climate hazard scenarios at all disruption levels, and simulating cascading failures within system and from other supporting infrastructures. The ultimate goal is to answer the question of how ready our road infrastructure is for the changing climate and develop quantitative analysis to inform future interventions.


Dr. Zizhen Xu is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Future Roads Fellow at the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge. He received his PhD in Transportation Resilience in 2022, his MSc in Energy and Environment in 2019 from City University of Hong Kong, and his BEng in Environmental Engineering from Harbin Institute of Technology at Weihai in 2017. His PhD research focused on the disaster resilience of urban public transportation systems. Prior to joining the University of Cambridge, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the School of Energy and Environment at City University of Hong Kong. His recent work includes the resilience of interconnected systems such as multimodal transportation networks and industrial symbiosis networks.