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Abdelrahman and Han receive National Science Foundation CAREER Awards

Magdy Abdelrahman, assistant professor of civil engineering, is the recipient of the Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) by the National Science Foundation. Abdelrahman will receive a five-year, $400,000 award to conduct research outlined in his proposal titled “A Program of Research Focused on Understanding of Interaction of Recycled Materials with Asphalt, Outreach, Academic and Engineering Development.”

Abdelrahman’s research program will focus on using recycled materials, like tire rubber, to enhance the performance of pavement as an aspect of the civil infrastructure sustainability. The broad goal of the research program is to fundamentally characterize the materials and process variables responsible for property development in asphalt-rubber interaction. “Asphalt applications have the potential to contribute to the solution of the growing solid waste problem, provided that engineering and environmental concerns are addressed,” said Abdelrahman.

Recycled tires, also known as crumb rubber modifier, and recycled asphalt pavement can be engineered and used successfully in asphalt pavement applications. Asphalt binders represent an area that can improve pavement performance, according to Abdelrahman. The proposed research will synthesize asphalt-crumb rubber modifier binders through interactions, will characterize the physical and chemical properties of asphalt-crumb rubber modifier binders, and will model the impact of chemical releases from recycled asphalt materials containing additives and polymers on soil and groundwater.

“This CAREER project will have a broad impact because solid waste is problematic throughout the world,” said Abdelrahman. The plan includes development of a graduate and senior course on recycled material applications and faculty-professional focus meetings to exchange experiences in the area of recycled materials. Activities will be used to recruit, train and mentor students while preparing them for careers in recycled materials. Community outreach activities will raise awareness to K-12 students to the environmental issues facing the global community regarding solid waste management.

Abdelrahman joined the NDSU faculty in 2004. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Zagazig University in Zagazig, Egypt. He earned his doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana. Abdelrahman has written or co-written 22 peer-reviewed publications and co-holds a patent on asphalt-rubber interaction. He is a member of two National Academies committees and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Solid Waste Technology and Management.

Chung-Souk Han, assistant professor of civil engineering, also is the recipient of the Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) by the National Science Foundation. Han will receive a five-year, $400,000 award to conduct research outlined in his proposal titled “Integrated Research and Education on the Size Dependent Deformation in Polymers – Indentation Tests, Material Modeling, and Numerical Simulations.”

The goal of Han’s research is to develop an understanding of how polymers at the nanoscale level are affected by certain factors. It has been observed in experiments that smaller components of many polymeric materials are stiffer and often stronger than larger components. This phenomenon is neither well known nor well understood in polymers, according to Han. One way to investigate such deformation behavior is nano/micro indentation testing applied in this research project.

Components of polymeric materials in small dimensions are used in a great variety of applications including coatings for corrosion protection, sensors, composites, adhesives, medical applications, foams, threads and woven materials. Despite the importance of size-dependent deformation of polymers in such applications, a sound physical micromechanical theory is not available, according to Han. The purpose of this project is to develop and verify such a theory along with numerical tools to simulate the size-dependent deformation in polymers. “Besides the direct applications related to the hardness of polymers, the research is of fundamental nature as it will be of importance wherever polymers are present in small dimensions,” said Han.

An educational component of the research plan includes involving students with disabilities and American Indian students in research activities through summer camps and undergraduate research. The goals include introducing and encouraging student interest in materials science, mechanics of materials, micromechanics and other areas. Selected undergraduate students at NDSU also will be participating in the research program through competitive compensated research positions.

Han joined the NDSU faculty in 2005. He earned a degree in mathematics from the University of Stuttgart in Germany, and advanced degrees in applied mechanics and civil engineering from the Darmstadt University of Technology in Germany and the University of Hannover, Germany. He previously conducted research at the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research in Stuttgart, as well as at Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif., and at The Ohio State University in Columbus.

Since 1996, 14 faculty members at NDSU have received prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Awards. “Continued growth of research programs at NDSU and the National Science Foundation CAREER Awards to NDSU faculty illustrate the caliber of research activities across campus,” said Philip Boudjouk, vice president for research, creative activities and technology transfer.

National Science Foundation CAREER awardees at NDSU have received $5 million in grants to conduct research in chemistry, civil and electrical engineering, and coatings and polymeric materials. Faculty members who are National Science Foundation CAREER awardees include faculty members Gregory Cook, Seth Rasmussen, Wenfang Sun, Sivaguru Jayaraman and Uwe Burghaus from chemistry; Sanku Mallik from pharmaceutical sciences; and Kalpana Katti, Eakalak Khan, Xuefeng Chu and Magdy Abdelrahman from civil engineering.

The National Science Foundation CAREER program recognizes and supports the early career-development activities of scholars who are likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century. Recipients are chosen on the basis of creative career development plans that integrate research and education within the context of their university’s mission.


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