CU-Boulder Engineering Professors Win Presidential Early Career Awards

January 10, 2002

Editors: Please note two other PECASE Awards were received by CU/NOAA researchers, described in an accompanying release.

University of Colorado at Boulder engineering professors Kenneth Gall and Jorge G. Zornberg have been selected as recipients of the prestigious 2001 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

The award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers who are in the early stages of establishing their independent research careers. The awardees were nominated by nine participating federal agencies and will be recognized at a White House ceremony, to be held in February.

Gall, who was nominated for the award by the Department of Energy's defense program, will receive $250,000 over five years from the DOE's Sandia National Laboratories to support his research in multi-scale modeling of materials.

As an assistant professor in the department of mechanical engineering, Gall has led a research team investigating the reliability of materials used in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and other emerging technologies in defense applications, smart structures and bioengineering.

He has used both atomistic simulations and micromechanical finite element analyses to develop damage and failure models for a variety of materials, ranging from shape memory alloys to lightweight cast materials and high-strength steels, as well as carbon fiber-reinforced polymer composites and thin films.

A CU faculty member since 1999, Gall won the 2000 Sullivan-Carlson Innovation in Teaching Award, an annual award presented by undergraduate engineering students, after he developed a new interactive course on the failure of materials. He received his doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1998.

Zornberg was nominated for the Presidential Early Career Award by the National Science Foundation as one of its most meritorious CAREER awardees.

Zornberg, who received the NSF CAREER award in 2000, will receive an estimated $375,000 over five years from the National Science Foundation for his research in geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering.

An assistant professor in the department of civil, environmental and architectural engineering, Zornberg has been investigating the use of alternative, evapotranspirative cover systems for hazardous waste sites in arid and semi-arid climates.

His work involves analyzing unsaturated flow processes in soil cover systems for waste containment, combining physical and numerical modeling for analysis of geotechnical systems and using geosynthetic materials as reinforcement in embankments and retaining walls.

Having designed the first evapotranspirative cover approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a Superfund site in California, Zornberg is currently involved in the remediation of other hazardous waste sites, such as the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, which plans to implement the new technology.

Zornberg joined the faculty at CU-Boulder in 1998. He was awarded the International Geosynthetics Society's Young Member Award in 1996 and the American Society of Civil Engineers' Collingwood Prize in 2000. He received his doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley in 1994.

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