Two UCI Engineers Named Hellman Fellows

Hellman FellowsTwo Samueli School engineers – Anne Lemnitzer and Timothy Rupert -- have been selected as Hellman Fellows for 2014-15. The Hellman Fellows Program aims to support the research of promising assistant professors who show capacity for great distinction in their chosen fields of endeavor. Anne Lemnitzer

Lemnitzer, an assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering, is studying the resistance of pile foundations as used underneath bridges or tall buildings to withstand lateral loading such as earthquakes or vessel impact. Her study will consists of a combination of analytical modeling and small scale laboratory testing conducted in the UCI Structural Engineering Testing Hall (SETH Lab). Lemnitzer says the $23,000 Hellman award will allow her to investigate if currently suggested pile geometries are really necessary to withstand earthquake loading or if more economical solutions can be achieved with advanced design formulations. “We need to determine the actual size that is necessary for safety, so we can reduce the tendency to over design with large piles, which can be costly.” Within her experimental study, she will develop sensor-equipped smart sections for piles that can be installed in a test pile and used to extract valuable experimental data during load testing.

Timothy RupertRupert, an assistant professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering, will apply his $47,000 Hellman award to a project focusing on the computer simulation of radiation damage at specially designed interfaces in materials. Materials scientists have shown that grain boundaries (internal interfaces that separate individual crystals in a material) can act as sinks for defects created by radiation bombardment, making nanomaterials promising reactor materials for the future. Rupert will take this idea one step further by attempting to control the structure of these interfaces through the addition of carefully selected alloying elements that segregate to the grain boundaries.  “My goal is to use atomistic computer simulations to explore this concept and understand the effect of local grain boundary structure on resistance to radiation damage.”

Established in 1994 by Warren and Chris Hellman of San Francisco, the Hellman Fellows Program now supports junior faculty at 14 institutions, including all 10 UC campuses.