Nima Rahbar Named Ralph H. White Family Distinguished Professor

Department(s):

Advancement

Nima Rahbar, civil, environmental, and architectural engineering professor, has been named the Ralph H. White Family 

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Nima Rahbar

Nima Rahbar

Distinguished Professor for a three-year term.

The Ralph H. White Family Distinguished Professorship was established in 1987 by Leonard White ’41 and his wife Ann and their son David White ’75 to support the Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering Department. Leonard White, who passed away in 2014, served WPI as a trustee and trustee emeritus and was a longtime, dedicated supporter of his alma mater. Read more about his service to and support of WPI here.

Rahbar earned his BS degree at Sharif University of Technology and his PhD at Princeton University. His research activities are in mechanics, materials, and structures, and he enjoys working one-on-one with graduate and undergraduate students on research projects.

His research group focuses on the fundamental principles that control the behavior of materials in engineering and biology at multiple scales. He is particularly interested in the bioinspired design of materials and structures. In this field, studying biological materials leads to the design of high-performance materials and structural systems. One example is his work in collaboration with Suzanne Scarlata, Richard T. Whitcomb ’43 Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, on a new paradigm in self-healing concrete using an enzymatic mechanism. Using this mechanism, their research has produced a Self-Healing Carbon-Negative Enzymatic Construction Material (ECM), which sequesters 18 pounds of CO2 per cubic yard compared to concrete which emits around 700 pounds of CO2 per cubic yard. ECM also holds the record in compressive strength, rivaling traditional mortar.

“Professor Rahbar’s research is an example of the interdisciplinary work needed to address broad global challenges in sustainability engineering,” says John McNeill, the Bernard M. Gordon Dean of WPI’s School of Engineering. “It’s also an example of the collaborative work our faculty excel in, taking advantage of the low barriers between disciplines in the WPI research ecosystem.” 

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