Song Receives Prestigious NSF Career Award

Xiaoyu Song, an assistant professor of civil engineering at the Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment (ESSIE) in the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) to study failures in unsaturated porous media.

“I am honored to receive the NSF CAREER award and am grateful for the support of the NSF, as well as the geotechnical engineering community,” Dr. Song said.

He will use the five-year, $500,000 award to formulate and validate a novel computational mathematical paradigm to evaluate failures in unsaturated soils impacted by climate change.

Unsaturated soils such as wet sand and clay are three-phase porous media in which pores are filled with both water and air. This project will apply scientific computing to provide a better understanding of why unsaturated soils are prone to failure under certain circumstances, as well as the knowledge needed to build more sustainable, resilient civil infrastructure, such as thermal piles, dams, levees, roads, and buildings on unsaturated soils.

“As a geomechanics modeler by high-performance computing, I can better characterize failures in unsaturated porous media driven by coupled multi-physical processes at multiple spatial and temporal scales, like nanometers to kilometers and nanoseconds to years, which are usually computationally demanding,” Dr. Song said.

His research will advance the critical understanding of complex processes coupled between the reaction of unsaturated soils to climate change in regard to environmental, energy and coastal geotechnics.

“Congratulations to Dr. Song for his CAREER award, it’s a very prestigious honor and strong recognition of his research. This award will allow him to build a world class research program in the Geosystems Engineering group,” said Dr. Michael Annable, Environmental Engineering Sciences Department Head.

This highly regarded CAREER Award is given from the National Science Foundation to junior faculty to produce lifetime contributions to research and education.