Scott Dunbar


BSc Geophysics (Honours), University of British Columbia, 1972
MSc Geophysics, University of Toronto, 1973
PhD Civil Engineering/Geophysics, Stanford University, 1977

The first twenty years of my career were spent in civil and geotechnical engineering consulting. Over that period I was involved in projects such as tailings dam and waste dump design, open pit and underground mine design, and water resources projects including hydroelectric dams. In addition to North America, these projects took me to Africa, South and Central America, and Europe. (Guatemala was a favorite.)

In 1997 Dr Rick Lawrence, Department Head at the time, invited me to join the Department. Since I had always enjoyed teaching and research, it was not a difficult decision to apply for the position. I was at a point in my career when I was ready for the change.

Although my background is civil/geotechnical, I am interested in what a mine is going to look like in the year 2050 or even 2100. Can we go on extracting minerals the way we have been or should we be looking at alternatives? What alternatives? Some ideas are discussed in the Research tab of this website, but I believe we should look way “outside the box” since otherwise the mining industry will not advance and it may become difficult or even unsustainable to continue operating the way it has.

I teach Mine Design to undergraduate students and Mine Economics to both undergraduate and graduate students. I also teach a graduate course in the use of decision analysis and simulation in engineering.

In addition to my responsibilities with Mining Engineering I was the founding director of Integrated Engineering, a new inter-disciplinary engineering degree with heavy emphasis on design (see The program has been quite successful and has graduated about 120 students all of whom are employed in different industries.

The counter-balance for a busy work schedule is sports (cycling, cross-country and downhill skiing, and sometimes the gym), re-modeling and re-landscaping an old house with the help of my wife, Petra, and spending time with two sons, one young daughter, and two grown daughters. I also like to read and travel.

Music? I am an unabashed blues aficionado. There was a blues singer named Scott Dunbar from Lake Mary in Mississippi who played a raw and basic style. Looked nothing like me. I wish I could have met him before he died in 1994 (See


Research Interests

  • Application of biotechnologies to mining and mineral processing
  • Advanced mining systems
  • Design of methods and strategies for flexible operation of mining projects
  • Risk mitigation
  • Models of nonmarket risks


Selected Publications

Greene, R, Curtis, S, MacGillivray, R, and Dunbar, WS, 2015. Mineral separation using functionalized magnetic nanoparticles. In preparation

Dunbar, WS, Moss, A, Davies, J, 2015. Paths for Innovation in the Mining Industry. Submitted to Resources Policy

Dunbar WS and Ahmadiani S, 2015. Leave the discount rate alone. To be submitted to Resources Policy

Dunbar, WS, 2015 Biotechnology and the mine of tomorrow. Submitted to Nature Biotechnology

Dunbar, WS, 2014. Novel mining techniques. International Innovations, Issue 164: 31-33

Grieco S-HH, Wong AYK, Dunbar WS, MacGillivray RTA, and Curtis SB, 2012 Optimization of fermentation parameters in phage production using response surface methodology, Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology, 39(10): 1515-1522

Curtis SB, Dunbar WS, MacGillivray RTA, 2012 Bacteriophage-induced aggregation of oil sands tailings, Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 110:803–811

Curtis SB, MacGillivray RTA, Dunbar WS, 2011. Effects of bacteriophage on the surface properties of chalcopyrite (CuFeS2), and phage-induced flocculation of chalcopyrite, glacial till, and oil sands tailings. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 108(7): 1579-1590

Gunson, AJ, Klein, B, Veiga, M, Dunbar, S, 2010. Reducing mine water network energy requirements. Journal of Cleaner Production, 18:1328:1338

Curtis SB, Hewitt J, MacGillivray RTA, Dunbar WS, 2009. Biomining with bacteriophage: Selectivity of displayed peptides for naturally occurring sphalerite and chalcopyrite. Biotechnology and Bioengineering 102:644–650.

Grieco S-HH, Seungil L, Dunbar, WS, MacGillivray, RTA, and Curtis, SB, 2009. Maximizing filamentous phage yield during computer-controlled fermentation. Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering, 32:773-779



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