01/02/2013 16:07:09

Ares J. Rosakis to Receive P. S. Theocaris Award

The Society for Experimental Mechanics (SEM) will present the P. S. Theocaris Award for 2013 to Ares J. Rosakis, Caltech's Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and professor of mechanical engineering, and chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science.

Given every two years, the award is named in honor of P. S. Theocaris, a legendary solid mechanics researcher, dynamic-fracture experimentalist, and past member of the prestigious Academy of Athens. The award recognizes recipients for distinguished, innovative, and outstanding work in optical methods and experimental mechanics. Rosakis will accept the award at SEM's annual conference in Lombard, Illinois, in June.

"Receiving this award is especially thrilling for me since I have had the honor of knowing Professor Pericles Theocaris since early childhood in Greece," says Rosakis. "As a high school student I was greatly inspired by his pioneering work on dynamic-fracture mechanics, high-speed photography, and the optical method of caustics, subjects which I still hold very dear to my heart. Indeed I consider his influence as playing a very important role during the first formative steps of my engineering and scientific identity."

Rosakis researches quasi-static and dynamic failure of metals, composites, and interfaces using high-speed visible and infrared diagnostics and laser interferometry. Recent research conducted by Rosakis combined engineering fracture mechanics and geophysics to gain a better understanding of the destructive potential of large earthquakes.

SEM specifically recognized Rosakis for his experimental discovery of "intersonic" or "supershear" ruptures or dynamic delamination cracks. These ruptures are capable of propagating at speeds that are faster than the shear wave speeds of the surrounding material, and can spread along fault planes in the earth's crust to produce supershear earthquakes. These ruptures also grow along weak interfaces in a variety of composite materials commonly used in engineering practice. SEM also is recognizing Rosakis for his seminal contributions in the area of dynamic failure and for developing methods to determine stresses in thin-film structures.

Rosakis received his BSc from the University of Oxford in 1978 and his PhD from Brown University in 1982, the same year he joined Caltech as an assistant professor. He was appointed associate professor in 1988 and professor in 1993 and was named von Kármán Professor in 2004. He also became the fifth director of the Graduate Aeronautical (Aerospace as of 2008) Laboratories at the California Institute of Technology (GALCIT) in 2004 and held that position through 2009, the year he was appointed division chair.

Rosakis holds 13 U.S. patents on thin-film stress measurement and in situ wafer-level metrology as well as on high-speed infrared thermography. He is the author of more than 260 papers on the dynamic deformation and catastrophic failure of metals, composites, interfaces, and on laboratory seismology. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He recently received the commander grade of the French Republic's Order of Academic Palms.

Written by Brian Bell