What is your Research Focus?
Concrete is the most widely used material in the world. However, because of its intensive and large-scale use in various infrastructure applications, there has been an increasing need in engineering concretes that have improved sustainability, durability, and resiliency while also reducing its carbon footprint. Portland cement powder, the primary ingredient and contributor to greenhouse emissions, provides the mechanical strength and binding properties in concrete. While most concrete produced worldwide uses this binder, many new alternative materials now exist that can partially or even totally replace it however, research is still needed to understand their behavior and long-term performance in the built environment. My research group is looking at how to move from conventional Portland cement to alternative or non-Portland cement systems with better environmental results and improved durability.
Our research group in the past few years has focused on testing, characterizing, and improving durability-related issues in sustainable cement-based materials in concrete through multi-scale testing including laboratory and field evaluations, as well as field instrumentation and monitoring of concrete structures incorporating these novel materials. In addition, our group also focuses on how we can effectively utilize novel waste material to increase concrete’s durability performance. This ultimately has two positive effects: reduces the amount of waste being landfilled and thus recycles materials; and reduces the amount of Portland cement used in concrete, ultimately reducing harmful emissions. Our research goal is to improve our understanding of how these materials perform, and facilitate increasing their use in building and transportation infrastructure applications through changes and/or development of codes, specification, guides, and performance standards.
What opportunities at the UW excite you?
I am very excited to have joined the University of Washington. My research is at the intersection of materials science, engineering, and construction practice so I am very excited to collaborate with many faculty across the College of Built Environment and College of Engineering. There are various research groups, centers, and initiatives around green building environment and infrastructure that I’m looking forward to hopefully being a part of and contributing to such as the Center for Education and Research in Construction (CERC), Applied Research Consortium (ARC), and the Carbon Leadership Forum, among others. One of my biggest excitements that I’m looking forward to is establishing the Infrastructure Materials and Methods Research Lab focusing on evaluating novel and sustainable cement-based materials used in building and transportation infrastructure. This lab will hopefully connect and assist with various research groups and agencies such as the Washington State Transportation Center (TRAC) and the Department of Transportation (DOTs). As one of the only experts at UW focusing on researching concrete at the material science level, I’m excited to build a lab capable of testing and characterizing advanced materials to achieve the goal of a safer, durable, and sustainable infrastructure.