NSERC Chair for
Women in Science & Engineering

Caterina Valeo

Dr. Caterina Valeo

Just tell them to go to hell, and keep at it.

Professor, Mechanical Engineering, University of Victoria
Adjunct Professor, Civil Engineering, University of Calgary

Dr. Caterina Valeo received her BSc in Physics (1990) and BASc in Civil Engineering (1992) from the University of Toronto before starting her graduate work in Civil Engineering at McMaster University. She received her MEng in 1994 and her PhD in 1998 both specializing in Water Resources Engineering. She joined the Civil and Geological Engineering Department at the University of Manitoba in January 1998 as an Assistant Professor, and later joined the Department of Geomatics Engineering at the University of Calgary in the summer of 2000. Seven years later she moved to the Civil Engineering Department.

She joined the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Victoria in the fall of 2011 to help create their new Civil Engineering program, which she successfully launched in September 2013.

Dr. Valeo’s research includes the impact of urbanization and climate change on water quantity and quality; the influence of hydrological processes on forest regeneration; modelling water resources in remote regions of the Canadian boreal forest, assessing the impacts of climate change and urbanization on water supply; developing large scale estimates of evapotranspiration and vegetation health with the use of remote sensing; developing mixing zone models and water quality models for rivers, lakes and near shore areas.

Her research support have included NSERC, the Alberta Ingenuity Fund, the Canadian Climate Change Action Fund, Alberta Innovation and Science, Alberta Environment, Alberta Sustainable Resources and Development, The Bow River Basin Council, The City of Calgary, Manitoba Hydro and The Department of Fisheries and Oceans. She has been a Professional Engineer registered with APEGGM, APEGGA, and now with APEGBC since 2011.

As an academic, what is your favourite part of your job?


What are you researching and what excites you about it?

Urban hydrology, sustainable urban design, water quality mitigation and developing scaling laws. The discovery of new methods, theories and concepts excites me.

What types of professions can students graduating in your field enter?

Consulting, municipalities, all levels of government and non-governmental organizations dealing with environmental engineering.

Is your workplace male-dominated? If so, how do you negotiate being a woman in a male-dominated workplace and/or field?

Completely male-dominated. I’m not certain how use the term "negotiate" with respect to working in a male-dominated workplace. I am true to myself and will not compromise on who I am, and that is a woman, so I guess I expect that my male colleagues must “negotiate” having me, a woman, in their workplace.

How do you foster and encourage diversity in your workplace?

By encouraging my head of department and Dean to consider the unconscious bias they bring into their evaluations of members, and their search for new hires.

What kinds of systemic support could institutions provide to help encourage girls and women to pursue careers in science and engineering?

For academics - free daycare for starters. Women are still tasked with the primary care-giving role and getting support in this area would help a lot. As for encouraging girls and women, let them know that they have value and much to contribute in STEM areas because diversity is what progresses any field - different points of view, mindsets, etc.

What advice would you give to girls or young women who are interested in careers in science or engineering?

Persevere, and when you get discouraged by others or even your own inner-critic, just tell them to go to hell, and keep at it.

As a professional in science or engineering, who are your role models and mentors?

Have none.