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March 5, 2001

Contact: Denine Hagen

(858) 534-2920,



Sia Nemat-Nasser, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering, is one of 74 of the nation's top academic and industry engineers elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in 2001.

Election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions accorded an engineer, and recognizes individuals who have made important contributions to engineering theory and practice and who have demonstrated unusual accomplishment in the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology. The Jacobs School faculty now includes 16 members of the NAE.

Nemat-Nasser directs UCSD's Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials. His research focuses on understanding how materials respond to thermo-mechanical loads imposed by their environment, and how they may fatigue or otherwise fail over time. For example, he has studied the structural materials used for recent space laboratories to determine how such structures would sustain the impacts of meteorites. He has also examined how polymer composites, long used for stealthy aircraft and now being developed for civil infrastructure, stand up to wear and tear over time. In addition, Nemat-Nasser works on developing novel materials with new properties such as ceramic-metal-polymeric composites that are extremely strong but very lightweight. His most recent work includes ionic-polymer-metal composites, which are molecularly-driven soft actuators and sensors. A thin strip of this composite performs large-amplitude flapping motion under a small alternating electric potential; and it produces a voltage when suddenly bent.

"This is an extraordinary and well-deserved honor for Sia, and is a wonderful recognition of his achievements over the years," said Robert Conn, Dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering.

Much of Nemat-Nasser's work is done in the experimental and computer facilities of the Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials. This collection of state-of-the-art research laboratories includes gas guns that can launch projectiles at speeds of over 1000 meters per second; high-speed cameras that can capture events up to 100 million frames per second; flash X-ray machines for high-speed radiography; facilities capable of heating materials to 1000 degrees Celsius and testing them at extremely high deformation rates; holographic facilities that use lasers and optics to diagnose materials' response to stress and strain; and a full complement of testing machines capable of characterizing fibers thinner than human hair as well as large samples.

Nemat-Nasser is an accomplished teacher and has been recognized by his students as a Teacher of the Year and Outstanding Teacher at the Jacobs School.

In addition to teaching and research, Nemat-Nasser is Editor-in-Chief of the international journal Mechanics and Materials, has written two books and edited or co-edited 14 other books. He has published more than 400 papers in top archival journals, and has delivered some 500 lectures throughout the world. He is chairing the upcoming 2001 Mechanics and Materials conference which will be held in San Diego June 27 to 29. The meeting is jointly sponsored by the Applied Mechanics and Materials Divisions of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the Mechanics Division of the American Society of the Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the Society of Engineering Science.

Nemat-Nasser has been honored internationally for his work, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Mechanics, the American Society of Mechanical Engineering, and the Society of Engineering Science. He has served as President of the American Academy of Mechanics and the Society of Engineering Science. He was a UCSD professor from 1966 to 1970, moved to Northwestern University as a professor of civil engineering in 1970, and returned to UCSD in 1985, where he remains today. Nemat-Nasser earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley.

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