Dr. Zhao obtained his undergraduate education in structural engineering at Tongji University, China.  After graduation, Dr. Zhao worked as a structural engineer in a design firm for two years, during which time, he participated in design of several buildings in seismic regions. He received his master’s degree from Tongji University, and his research work was related to analyzing the behavior of concrete confined by fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) tubes using general finite element codes. Dr. Zhao earned his PhD from the University of Minnesota where, as part of his doctoral research, he developed a new seismic testing method for large-scale structures. Following graduation, he worked as a Research Associate at Iowa State University for two years, conducting research on testing and analysis of large-scale non-rectangular concrete walls. To accurately capture/predict the seismic behavior of concrete walls, Dr. Zhao, in collaboration with Dr. Sritharan, has improved the modeling capability of OpenSees, a software framework for seismic simulation of bridges and buildings.

Dr. Zhao is the PI of a project funded by NSF focusing on the behavior and design of cast-in-place anchors/studs subjected to seismic loading. Dr. Zhao has also worked on quantifying the impact of overweight vehicles on the safety and durability of bridges. Dr. Zhao, along with three other UWM colleagues, has developed a bridge monitoring sensor based on EM wave propagation in engineered media.

Dr. Zhao is a member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI). Dr. Zhao is the secretary of Joint ACI-ASCE 447 Committee, Finite Element Analysis, and a voting member of ACI Committee 355, Anchorage to Concrete. Dr. Zhao is also a member of SAG 4, Anchorage in Concrete and Masonry, which is a part of the International Federation for Structural Concrete (fib).