Cullen College Adds Two More National Academy Members to Faculty


Toby Weber

Drawing top researchers to its already outstanding faculty roster is an ongoing effort at the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering. These professors help grow the university’s overall research expenditures and improve the success rates of its undergraduate and graduate students – both essential to UH’s drive to earn recognition as a Tier One research university.

This effort recently resulted in the successful recruitment two new faculty members who belong to the elite National Academy of Engineering, clearly marking them as among the very best in their fields. With these additions, the college now has 11 professors who belong to the NAE. In rankings of national research universities, some institutions in the top 50 have as few as five faculty members university-wide that belong to the National Academies.

“Having 11 National Academy members in the Cullen College of Engineering alone shows that the University of Houston is already a top-tier research institution,” said Joseph W. Tedesco, Elizabeth D. Rockwell Professor and Dean. “It also demonstrates the essential role that the college plays in UH’s drive to earn the Tier One designation. These new faculty members will help us draw more research funding to the university and continue providing our students with an outstanding education.”

Kaspar Willam, professor of civil and environmental engineering, joined the college this fall from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Inducted into the NAE in 2004, he has authored more than 160 publications and served as an invited speaker on more than 140 occasions. Willam, who earned his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, is also a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the United States Association for Computational Mechanics. He is recognized as a leading authority on structural mechanics and materials.

NAE member Anestis “Andy” Veletsos joined the college as an adjunct professor of civil and environmental engineering. He is also the Brown & Root Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Rice University. Veletsos is a two-time winner of the Norman Medal, the highest award given by the American Society of Civil Engineers for papers published in its journals. He headed the group that formulated the Applied Technology Council’s first design provisions for soil structure and then incorporated those provisions into the federal government’s National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program. Veletsos’ areas of expertise include structural and foundation dynamics, earthquake engineering and the dynamics of offshore platforms.

Last January, Cullen College also welcomed NAE member Surendra Shah, a visiting professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental who is slated to become a full professor at the beginning of 2011. In addition to his NAE membership, he is an honorary fellow of the American Concrete Institute, a member of both the Indian National Academy of Engineering and a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Shah was previously the Walter P. Murphy Professor in Northwestern University’s Department of Civil Engineering, where he served as director of the National Science Foundation’s Center for Advanced Cement-Based Materials. His areas of expertise include the application of nanotechnology in civil engineering, fiber-reinforced concrete, and nonlinear fracture mechanics.


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