Lucio Soibelman, chair and professor for the Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, received the 2016 Richard R. Torrens Award from the American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE) in recognition of his outstanding contributions as chief editor.
The ASCE currently publishes 38 journals on a variety of topics relating to civil engineering. Each year, the Board Committee on Publications honors one volunteer journal editor who has greatly contributed to the publications program.
“I didn’t expect to get it because I stepped down in January,” Soibelman said. “But this is a big honor.”
Soibelman served as an editor for the Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering for 16 years, beginning as an associate editor in 2000 and retiring as chief editor in Jan. 2016. In 2008, he became co-chief editor with colleague James Garrett, current dean of engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, taking over as editor when Garrett left in 2012. During his service, Soibelman made a significant impact by reducing the time between author submission and journal acceptance.
“The main problem with journals is the turn-around-time for the review process,” Soibelman said. “Now that people submit online, there are much less barriers for submission, so you are receiving much more papers.”
He began by encouraging ASCE to sort through and send out submissions to chief editors in just two days, as opposed to two to three weeks. In addition, he took on the responsibility of determining the applicability of the papers, declining any that were beyond the scope of the journal without review. In total, he cut months off of the turn-around-time and reduced the work load on associate editors and reviewers.
“I did all of this in half a day—every day I would wake up, the first thing I would do was clean up the journal,” Soibelman said. “This increased the speed and… you are loading much less on the community.”
Soibelman is currently a member of 13 editorial boards for academic journals with subject matters relating to construction management and computing. His own research focuses on the communications of big data, sensors and smart infrastructure in relation to civil and environmental engineering.