My primary research interests are in the realm of granular materials and granular systems. Granular and particulate materials represent some of the most heavily manipulated materials in our society. A fundamental understanding of their behavior at the scale of individual grains or particles has wide-ranging benefits in several fields including civil engineering, geology, additive manufacturing, and planetary exploration.
My research relies on advanced numerical modeling techniques that can simulate large-strain behavior while also capturing directly the fundamental discontinuous nature of granular systems. Specifically, I utilize the Distinct Element Method (DEM) with high-performance computing to simulate individual grain interactions within a particle assemblage as it undergoes large-strain deformation due to phenomena such as earthquake surface fault rupture and trapdoor displacement. This line of research advances understanding of how ground surface deformations can impact infrastructure and ultimately aims to improve the resiliency of infrastructure against geologic hazards.
I also use state-of-the-art imaging techniques to characterize the fabric of granular materials in terms of the shapes and sizes of individual grains, the orientations of individual grains, and their packing arrangement. I use high-resolution x-ray computed tomography (XRCT) to image the grains within samples of natural sediment for the purpose of characterizing how grain fabric is affected by its depositional history. By imaging sediment samples at incremental stages of shear deformation, this research further informs how the macroscopic deformation behavior of granular sediment is influenced by its fabric at the scale of individual grains.