ASCE has honored Robert L. Lytton, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE, with the 2017 Francis C. Turner Award for his distinguished career as an innovator, practitioner, and teacher whose research and ideas have advanced transportation engineering in the areas of mechanics, soils, pavements, construction materials, climate effects, and nondestructive testing.
Lytton is one of the most respected geotechnical/pavement engineers in the nation. He has been teaching at Texas A&M University since the early 1960s, where he currently holds the Fred J. Benson Chair in Civil Engineering.
Besides his research interests in the general areas of mechanics, soils, construction materials, climatic effects, and nondestructive testing, he has specific interest as well as research experience in continuum mechanics, fracture mechanics, plasticity, soil dynamics, moisture diffusivity, and constitutive modeling. He developed the fracture mechanics approach, which has successfully predicted reflection cracking and is the basis for the ongoing National Cooperative Highway Research Program project on modeling reflection cracking in hot-mix-asphalt overlays, of which he is the principal investigator. In the soils area, his interests and research have been in expansive soils theory and design and unsaturated earthquake constitutive testing and modeling. He developed the analysis method used in the test protocol that determines the anisotropic properties of unbound aggregates.
In the area of climatic effects, Lytton led one of the FHWA research projects that developed the current enhanced integrated climatic effects model, which couples moisture flow with heat and temperature flow in pavements, including the surface effects of solar radiation, wind speed, and relative humidity. His background in unsaturated soil mechanics led to a collaboration with chemical engineering faculty in the discovery of the role of surface energy (Gibbs Free Energy) components on adhesive and cohesive bond energy in resisting fracture and promoting healing.
The lectureship was established by the Transportation and Development Institute (formerly the Highway and Urban Transportation Divisions) of the Society by the solicitation of gifts from the many friends and admirers of Francis C. Turner, Hon.M.ASCE, former Chief Engineer of the Bureau of Public Roads and retired Federal Highway Administrator.