Roberto Ballarini recognized for contributions in numerous disciplines
Roberto Ballarini, Thomas and Laura Hsu Professor and chairman of the department of civil and environmental engineering at the UH Cullen College of Engineering, is the recipient of the 2019 Raymond D. Mindlin Medal from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
Established in 2008, the award recognizes outstanding research contributions to applied solid mechanics. The ASCE’s Engineering Mechanics Institute (EMI) selected Ballarini for “the application of elasticity and fracture mechanics to problems in numerous disciplines and at multiple length scales, and for seminal contributions to experiments for measuring the mechanical properties of materials and structures at micro and nano length scales.”
The medal is named for Raymond D. Mindlin, who was a professor at Columbia University and is best known for his pioneering contributions to applied mechanics.
“The Mindlin Medal is particularly special to me because Raymond Mindlin, one of the great mechanicians of the 20th century, was my academic great-grandfather. That is, he was the advisor of the advisor of my advisor,” Ballarini said.
He added that he was surprised and humbled by the award because “past winners include leading scholars whose seminal contributions to mechanics have inspired my own research and teaching.”
Ballarini earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the City College of New York, and his master’s and doctoral degrees – also in civil engineering – from Northwestern University.
Although his primary background is in the mechanics of materials and structures, Ballarini’s research spans a wide range of topics, including advanced composites, microeletromechanical systems, natural and synthetic nanostructures, biological structures, aerostructures, applied mathematics and prosthetics.
“Early on in my career I decided not to work on one specific topic,” Ballarini said. “Instead, I decided to adopt a multidisciplinary approach and to pursue interesting problems in many different fields.”
Ballarini, who joined UH in 2014, said he most enjoys teaching and working with students.
“I can make a strong argument that this award reflects, more than my own abilities, the talents of the graduate students and post-doctoral fellows with whom I have collaborated with over the past 34 years,” he said.
Ballarini will receive the medal at the ASCE’s EMI 2019 Conference in June in Pasadena, California.