ASCE has honored Amit Bhasin, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE; Mikhail V. Chester, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE; James K. Guest, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE; Kaveh Madani, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE; and Jamie E. Padgett, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE with the 2017 Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prizes.
Bhasin is honored for creative and rigorous work on the mechanics and physiochemical behavior of asphalt materials. His work, at the interface of mechanics and material science, is providing considerable new insight in the areas of fracture, damage, and healing of asphalt and time-dependent materials. Some specific, noteworthy features of his research:
• A new method to quantify healing in asphalt materials using a continuum damage approach (the subject of Bhasin’s NSF CAREER Award; note that it is very unusual for researchers in pavement materials to receive NSF funding, let alone a CAREER Award, as NSF believes that such research is in the domain of the mission agencies)
• Novel characterization work in studying the distribution and nature of asphalt films, which has significantly contributed to a more fundamental understanding of the mechanisms of healing in asphalt composites
• New discoveries in the understanding of the adhesive properties of materials and their resistance to moisture damage
• Work on nonlinear viscoelasticity that includes well-designed experimental programs with careful theoretical analysis
Chester is recognized for contributing new insights into how civil engineers can lead in the area of resilient infrastructure to extreme events. In his early research career he has shown exceptional leadership in the areas of infrastructure design for environmental sustainability and resilience. In addition to his pioneering work on the life-cycle effects of infrastructure decisions, he has headed studies that have led to transformative thinking into how the design of infrastructure can be positioned for extreme weather-related events and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
He has most recently been leading several major efforts to rethink how infrastructure should be redesigned to be more resilient to heat and flooding. Chester has made several recommendations to state and local officials that have led to actionable results. He has worked with public agencies in the Southwest to implement strategies that protect infrastructure from extreme heat and flooding. His work on transportation infrastructure design and environmental impacts led to the use of supplementary cementitious materials that will reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of California High-Speed Rail by about 15 percent.
Guest is honored for research at the forefront of topology optimization, focusing on the rigorous integration of mechanics (e.g., solid, fluid, thermal), optimization, manufacturing, and uncertainty quantification. His work focuses on this integration with the inclusion of practical application-specific design objects and constraints. With the rise in manufacturing of specifically tailored materials (e.g., through additive manufacturing), this topic of topology optimization is increasingly important to ASCE. Optimal design of highly complex structures and materials can only be achieved through application of rigorous optimization tools, and Guest’s work has provided such tools to civil engineering practice through the development of codes that are shared with the community. A few of the design algorithms he has developed have been implemented in commercial software used by civil engineers. Additionally, his work has motivated the use of topology optimization in structural engineering practice to generate design options for numerous recent projects.
Madani is recognized for groundbreaking research contributions to the development of methods for the allocation of scarce water resources while merging conflict-resolution and game-theoretic concepts and their application to complex water resources systems. A key recommendation he has made is to model conflictive water-allocation situations using a game-theory approach, in which stakeholders strategize to maximize their utilities. This approach has been supported by both modeling and empirical data, and it has introduced novel insight on how to achieve binding, long-term solutions to complex water resources problems. Madani’s approach has been applied in a California community, revealing the importance of state-sponsored enforcement to achieve long-term sustainable agreements.
Padgett is honored for leading contributions of national importance to multihazard assessment of bridge infrastructure, structural risk, and life-cycle assessment. Her research focuses on the application of probabilistic methods for hazard risk assessment and life-cycle analysis of structures and infrastructure. Through this work she has made significant contributions with respect to both offering rigorous methodologies that support life-cycle management and risk mitigation efforts, and providing practical insights gained from application of these methods that are having an impact on practice. Her contributions to multihazard assessment of bridge infrastructure are considered to be leading advancements, by which she is promoting the concept of time-dependent and parameterized bridge fragility functions that can account for the interaction of aging and deterioration as well as natural hazard loading, such as earthquakes and storm surge / wind due to hurricanes. She introduced the method for modeling coastal bridge fragility, offering insight into structural vulnerability under joint storm surge and wave loading from coastal storms. Padgett’s work has been cited by Gulf Coast departments of transportation as motivation for establishing a coastal bridge retrofit prioritization plan. Her recent ongoing work on risk assessment of industrial infrastructure, namely aboveground storage tanks (ASTs), will fill a major gap in characterizing the failure potential of ASTs under multiple hurricane-induced loads and the potential for spillage of hazardous materials.
The Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prizes are awarded to members of the Society, in any grade, for notable achievements in research related to civil engineering. Preference is given to younger members (generally under 40 years of age) of early accomplishment who can be expected to continue fruitful careers in research.