LSU Civil Engineer Receives Prestigious Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award

Provost Stacia Haynie, Samuel Bentley, Hai Thomas Lin, Interim President Thomas Galligan

LSU Provost and Executive Vice President Stacia Haynie, LSU Vice President of Research & Economic Development Samuel Bentley, LSU Civil & Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Hai "Thomas" Lin and LSU Interim President Thomas Galligan.

Photo Credit: LSU

BATON ROUGE – LSU Civil & Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Hai “Thomas” Lin has received a Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from the Oak Ridge Associated Universities consortium, or ORAU, to investigate new materials and processes to improve the sustainability and resiliency of civil engineering infrastructure. Lin is one of 35 junior faculty in the U.S. to be granted this prestigious award. This year, there were 167 applicants.

“ORAU is proud to recognize the research and professional growth of these emerging leaders as they support the future of science and technology,” said Ken Tobin, ORAU vice president, University Partnerships Office.

According to the United Nations, buildings and related construction account for about 35 percent of global fossil fuel energy use and 40 percent of energy-related greenhouse gas, or CO2, emissions. While progress towards sustainable buildings and construction is advancing, the development of sustainable or “green” building materials is not keeping up with the demand for new construction and the resulting strain on the environment. However, researchers have been exploring sustainable synthetic materials that mimic biochemical processes, such as bio-brick and self-healing bio-concrete, to improve or replace conventional construction materials, such as brick and concrete. With this award, Lin will explore the use of emerging mycelium biocomposites as a “green” building material to improve the sustainability of civil engineering infrastructure.

“If successful, the mycelium biocomposites will reduce the cost and environmental impacts of building materials and thus bring significant economic and environmental benefits to our society,” Lin said.

The Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards program provides funds to enrich the research and professional growth of young faculty, such as Lin. All of the recipients are in the first two years of a tenure track position and will receive $5,000 in seed money for the 2020-2021 academic year to enhance their research during the early stages of their careers. Each recipient’s institution matches the ORAU award with an additional $5,000, making the total prize worth $10,000 for each winner. Winners may use the grants to purchase equipment, continue research or travel to professional meetings and conferences.

“This award provides me seed money and motivates me to pursue this project, which serves as the first step of my career goal towards the successful development of sustainable bio-inspired materials to improve the sustainability of civil infrastructure,” Lin said.

Past Powe award recipients at LSU include Michal Brylinski (2012) and Karen Maruska (2013) in life sciences; Donghui Zhang (2009), Kenneth Lopata (2015) and Tuo Wang (2019) in physical sciences; and Francisco Hung (2008), Michael Benton (2009), Ying Wang (2010) and Celalettin Emre Ozdemir (2015) in engineering.


Contact Alison Satake
LSU Media Relations