Students in lab.

Geotechnical and Materials Engineering Research

Geotechnical, materials, and pavement research is conducted in laboratories, at field locations, and also at the Larson Institute (The Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute), which includes a one-mile closed-loop test track. Laboratory facilities include Civil Infrastructure Testing and Evaluation Laboratory (CITEL) and the Materials Research Institute (MRI). Two affiliated research centers are the Northeast Center for Excellence in Pavement Technology (NECEPT) and the Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies.


Radlinska, A. (Principal Investigator), Warn, G. P. (Co-Principal Investigator), "Mechanical Testing of Prestressed Concrete Railroad Ties," RJLee Group. Total awarded: $64,837. (January 2016 - December 2017).

Duarte, J. (Principal Investigator), Nazarian, S. (Co-Principal Investigator), Memari, A. M. (Co-Principal Investigator), Baird, T. (Co-Principal Investigator), Pantano, C. G. (Co-Principal Investigator), Radlinska, A. (Co-Principal Investigator), Simpson, T. W. (Co-Principal Investigator), Tucker, C. S. (Co-Principal Investigator), Craveiro, F. (Co-Principal Investigator), "From Functionally Gradient Materials to Seamless Architecture Source of Support," The Raymond A. Bowers Program for Excellence in Design and Construction of the Built Environment. Total awarded: $50,000. (2016 - Present).

Xiao, M. (Principal Investigator), Liu, S. (Co-Principal Investigator), Rostami, J. (Co-Principal Investigator). “Field Investigation and Stability Analysis of Coal Slurry Impoundments.” Office of Surface Mining Reclamation & Enforcement (OSM), Department of Interior. Total federal funding: $200,000; industrial and university match funding: $99,110. Total project funding: $299,110. (October 2016 – March 2019).

Xiao, M. (Principal Investigator). “Convergence NNA: Coordinate a Transdisciplinary Research Network to Identify Challenges of and Solutions to Permafrost Coastal Erosion and Its Socioecological Impacts in the Arctic.” Funded by NSF Arctic System Science program, 01/01/2018 to 12/31/2021, total funding $500,000. Co-PIs: Vladimir Romanovsky, Kathleen Halvorsen, Guangqing Chi, Benjamin Jones.

Xiao, M. (Principal Investigator). “NNA Track 1: Collaborative Research: Resilience and adaptation to the effects of permafrost degradation induced coastal erosion” Funded by NSF Navigating the New Arctic program, 09/01/2019 to 08/31/2024, total funding $3,000,000. Project lead PI, with collaboration of University Alaska Fairbank, University of Idaho, Missouri Science and Technology University.

Xiao, M. (Co-Principal Investigator). “Collaborative Research: AccelNet:  Permafrost Coastal Systems Network (PerCS-Net) – a circumpolar alliance for arctic coastal community information exchange.” Funded by NSF Accelerating Research through International Network-to-Network Collaborations (AccelNet), 10/01/2019 to 09/30/2023, total funding $1,800,000. Lead PI: Benjamin Jones. Co-PI: Craig Tweedie.

Xiao, M. (Principal Investigator). “GRS-IBS Specification Modification,” funded by Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, 02/20/2019 – 03/20/2020, total funding: $99,606. Co-PIs: Dr. Xiaofeng Liu, Dr. Patrick Fox.

Xiao, M. (Principal Investigator). “Evaluation of an Innovative Erosion Control on Road Embankment Using Synthetic Turf with Sand Infill,” funded by U.S. DOT Region 3 University Transportation Center (UTC), 03/18/2019 – 03/17/2020; total federal funding $49,077.

Xiao, M. (Principal Investigator). “Evaluation of erodibility of sand infill placed in synthetic grass, Phase 2” funded by Watershed Geosynthetics, LLC (Atlanta, GA), 11/01/2019 to 01/31/2020, total funding $16,444. Co-PIs: Dr. Xiaofeng Liu, Dr. Hassan Ismail.

Xiao, M. (Principal Investigator). “Evaluation of erodibility of sand infill placed in synthetic grass, Phase 1” funded by Watershed Geosynthetics, LLC (Atlanta, GA), 04/01/2019 to 10/31/2019, total funding $26,143.

Qiu, T. (Principal Investigator), "CAREER: Experimental, Numerical, and Case Studies of Landslide Mobility," NSF. Total awarded: $500,000. (July 2015 - June 2020).

Qiu, T. (Principal Investigator), Xiao, M. (Co-Principal Investigator), " Effect on Aggregate
Compaction Using Excavator Mounted Hydraulic Plate Compactors," Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Total awarded: $115,281. (June 2018 - June 2019).

Liu, X.F. (Principal Investigator), Qiu, T. (Co-Principal Investigator), “Three-dimensional computational modeling of turbulent flow field, bed morphodynamics and liquefaction adjacent to munitions,” U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Total awarded: $354,379. (July 2017 – July 2020).

Warn, G.P. (Principal Investigator), Simpson, T.W. (Co-Principal Investigator), Lulo, L.D. (Co-Principal Investigator), Memari, A.M. (Senior Personnel), Qiu, T. (Senior Personnel), "RSB/Collaborative Research: A Sequential Decision Framework to Support Trade Space Exploration of Multi-Hazard Resilient and Sustainable Building Designs," NSF. Total awarded: $849,189. (March 2015 - February 2019).

Rajabipour, F. (Principal Investigator) “CAREER: Reaction Mechanisms, Performance Assessment, and Novel Mitigation Tools for Alkali-Silica Reaction in Concrete Structures,” NSF. Total awarded: $435,000. (August 2013 – July 2019).

Rajabipour, F. (Principal Investigator) “ENGINE: Next Generation Durability-Enhancing Admixtures to Extend the Life and Reduce the Life-cycle Costs of Concrete Infrastructure,” Penn State College of Engineering. Total awarded: $75,000. (January to December 2018).

Donnell, E.T. (Principal Investigator), Rajabipour, F. (Co-Principal Investigator), Fox, P. (Co-Investigator), Stoffels, S. (Co-Investigator) “Center for Integrated Asset Management of Multi-modal Transportation Infrastructure Systems (CIAMTIS); Region 3 University Transportation Center” USDOT. Total Awarded $2,570,000. (September 2018 to August 2019).

Rajabipour, F. (Principal Investigator) “Calcination and Testing of YBP Mine Tailing Clays,” York Building Products. Total Awarded: $32,500. (July to October 2018).

Rajabipour, F. (Principal Investigator) “Evaluating the Performance and Feasibility of Using Recovered Fly Ash and Fluidized Bed Combustion (FBC) Fly Ash as Concrete Pozzolan,” American Concrete Institute (ACI) and Pennsylvania Coal Ash Research Group (PCARG), Total awarded: $75,000 (July 2017 to June 2019).



The Penn State Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, established in 1881, is internationally recognized for excellence in the preparation of undergraduate and graduate engineers through the integration of education, research, and leadership.

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

212 Sackett Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-1408

Phone: 814-863-3084