My research and teaching activities in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering are in the area of the mechanics of materials and structures. At WPI, my favorite aspect of teaching is working one on one with graduate and undergraduate students on research projects. I like to excite students’ curiosity towards discoveries and creative scientific advancements. In our research group, we focus on the fundamental principles that control the behavior of materials in engineering and biology at multiple scales. I am 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 structures. For example, we have created bioinspired dental ceramic crowns that lasts longer than the current dental crowns; we have also studied the fracture properties of bamboo as a sustainable structural material. We also have a few projects focusing on fracture and fatigue of materials and structures such as visco-elastic crack-bridging mechanisms in ceramics; We have also been involved with the repair of the Adam statue at the New York Metropolitan Museum by studying the mixed-mode fracture of marble/adhesive interfaces. I encourage you to visit my website for more details about my research group at WPI.
Our latest work is focused on introducing a new paradigm in self-healing concrete using enzymes.
Professional Highlights & Honors
Science Daily covered the continued collaboration between Professor Suzanne Scarlata and Associate Professor Nima Rahbar to develop their Enzymatic Construction Material – a sustainable, low-cost replacement for concrete that can also heal itself. Scarlata and Rahbar recently received a nearly $700,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to refine the material, explore its ability to repair cracks in glass, and create educational programs for girls in Worcester and Nigeria.
BBC Earth featured the self-healing concrete developed by Associate Professor Nima Rahbar and Professor Suzanne Scarlata in an episode about climate-friendly ways to heat residential homes. The self-healing concrete uses an enzyme found in red blood cells to heal itself, thereby filling cracks before they cause larger structural issues.