UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering University of California San Diego
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Sia Nemat-Nasser Honored Again for Contributions to Materials Science


Since being inducted into the prestigious National Academy of Engineering in 2001, Sia Nemat- Nasser, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, has been honored again with the 2002 William Prager and Nadai Medals. He has also been elected Life Fellow of the ASME this year.

The William Prager Medal is given by the Society of Engineering Science (SES) for outstanding research contributions in theoretical and experimental solid mechanics. Interestingly, Prager was a prominent engineer who started the solid mechanics group at UCSD in the early 1960s and originally hired Nemat- Nasser.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers’(ASME) Nadai Medal honors research contributions which have broadened the field of materials engineering.

Among other research endeavors, Nemat-Nasser, who currently directs UCSD's Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials (CEAM), is using a recent $2.5 million MURI grant to develop light-weight structures made of shape-memory alloys that can regain their shape once deformed. He and his coworkers are combining these alloys with super-elastic foams containing hollow glass beads for even greater malleability and energy absorption.

Nemat-Nasser is also developing a self-healing composite material that is transparent to electromagnetic waves at select frequencies. “This composite material contains a polymer matrix that can repolymerize its broken covalent bonds and heal at the molecular level,” explains Nemat-Nasser. Thin strands of copper woven into the fiber provide electrical and thermal conductivity and increase the rate of polymerization as heat circulates through the material. Nemat- Nasser says the material, reinforced with Kevlar fibers, is very lightweight and exhibits superb strength and ductility.

In addition to his recent research career achievement awards, Nemat- Nasser received (for the third time) the Best Teacher Award from the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering graduating senior students.