Reston, Va. — The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) awarded Alexandria B. Boehm, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE; Claudia K. Gunsch, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE; Amit Kanvinde, Ph.D., M.ASCE; John S. McCartney, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE; and Narayanan Neithalath, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE with the 2016 Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prizes.
Alexandria Boehm, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE, is honored for her research in improving engineering practice and regulatory policies for protection of public health from exposure to water-borne pathogens in developed and developing countries.
An environmental engineering expert, Boehm is well known for her coastal water quality and beach advisories. Regarding shoreline and costal water quality, she studies pathogen sources, transport, and health risk at bathing beaches. Her work is unique in that it combines laboratory studies, fieldwork, and modeling to better understand how natural processes and human activities impact ecosystem and human health risk in coastal waters.
For nearly 15 years, Boehm has worked with various health agencies and advisory groups to improve the management practices and engineering interventions in coastal water quality. For example, in the United States alone there were over 20,000 beach advisories and closures in 2012. Her work has shown that the current methods for broadcasting these advisories are not adequate for the protection of public health due to what is being measured and the one-day delay between water sampling and obtaining results.
Claudia K. Gunsch, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE, is recognized for pioneering the development of gene silencing based water disinfection technology, significantly contributing to genetic bioaugmentation technology for the in situ bioremediation of organic contaminants, and advancing our understanding of the effect of emerging contaminants on biological wastewater treatment.
Gunsch has carried out ground breaking research by applying molecular biological concepts to the civil engineering field. Among her most important contributions is her work pioneering the application of gene silencing based technology to inactivate pathogens resistant to existing disinfectants and microorganisms involved in biocorrosion. This research area is critical for preventing the production of “superbugs” as well as the development of new methods for controlling infrastructure deterioration.
Additionally, she has investigated the effects of pharmaceutically active compounds and nanoparticles on the activity of nitrifying bacteria in biological wastewater treatment and their effects on nitrogen cycling following the land application of wastewater biosolids.
Amit Kanvinde, Ph.D., M.ASCE, is honored for his contributions in modeling integrated with large-scale experiments to advance the analysis and design of steel connections and members. He has made notable achievements in research related to civil engineering, centered on seismic performance and safety of steel buildings.
A Norman Medal recipient, Kanvinde’s most important contribution has been in advancing the state of art in modeling of ultra-low cycle fatigue fracture. By validating and extending these models to simulate fracture initiation under cyclic loading, his research has led to major advancements in the ability to model fracture of steel buildings, bridges, and other structures caused by earthquakes and other extreme loads.
His results have been valuable to the steel industry by helping mitigate premature fracture in critical steel structures and has impacted design standards, including the 2010 AISC Seismic Provisions (AISC 341) and the 14th edition of the Steel Construction Manual (AISC 325-11).
John S. McCartney, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE, is recognized for contributing to our understanding of the thermo-hydro-mechanical behavior of soils and associated effects on geothermal heat exchange and thermal energy storage in civil engineering applications.
McCartney’s work has opened up the possibility for using civil engineering infrastructure (foundations, retaining walls, tunnels, etc.) as geothermal heat resources while still serving their original purpose. This permits more efficient use of materials and reduces the installation costs of geothermal heat exchangers.
His research projects involved constructing two of the first full-scale energy pile installations in the United States and one of the first in the world that included long-term thermal and mechanical performance monitoring. His centrifuge-scale and laboratory-scale physical modeling tests have provided insight into the different mechanisms so thermo-mechanical soil-structure interaction and the role of couple heat transfer and water flow in the performance of geothermal heat exchangers.
Narayanan Neithalath, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE, is honored for his research and dissemination of fundamental microstructure-property studies on sustainable cementitious materials thus facilitating rational performance-based design, culminating in practical applications.
Neithalath’s major research is focused on the fundamental studies of material design-microstructure-performance relationships for a variety of sustainable cement-based materials for structural applications.
In an era where sustainability of the built environment is important, his research efforts on charting new paths to ensure materials-related sustainability, such as material–by-design approach and dissemination efforts through new material development, peer-reviewed publications, and edited volumes, are commendable.
Neithalath’s research finding include: (a) characterizing, understanding, and designing high volume limestone powder and glass powder use in cementitious systems; (b) developing novel material design procedures for pervious concretes (an important sustainable porous material that the EPA has recognized as a best management practice for storm water runoff control) based on packing theories; and (c) developing strategies based on phase change inclusions for thermal management of indoor environment and crack control in concrete.
ASCE awards the Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prizes to Society members who have notable achievements in research related to civil engineering.