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NDSU Professor Named Recipient of CAREER Award by NSF

Chung-Souk Han, Ph.D., assistant professor of civil engineering at North Dakota State University, Fargo, has been named a recipient of the Faculty Early Career Development award (CAREER) by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Han will receive a five-year, $400,000 award from the NSF to conduct research outlined in his proposal titled "Integrated Research and Education on the Size Dependent Deformation in Polymers-Indentation Tests, Material Modeling, and Numerical Simulations."

Chung-Souk Han, Ph.D., assistant professor of civil engineering at North Dakota State University, Fargo, has been named a recipient of the Faculty Early Career Development award (CAREER) by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The goal of Dr. Han’s research is to develop an understanding of how polymers at the nanoscale level are affected by certain factors. It has been observed in experiments that smaller components of many polymeric materials are stiffer and often stronger than larger components. This phenomenon is neither well known nor well understood in polymers, according to Dr. Han. One way to investigate such deformation behavior is nano-/micro indentation testing applied in this research project.

Components of polymeric materials in small dimensions are used in a great variety of applications including coatings for corrosion protection, sensors, composites, adhesives, medical applications, foams, threads and woven materials. Despite the importance of size dependent deformation of polymers in such applications, a sound physical micromechanical theory is not available, according to Dr. Han. The purpose of this project is to develop and verify such a theory along with numerical tools to simulate the size dependent deformation in polymers. “Besides the direct applications related to the hardness of polymers, the research is of fundamental nature as it will be of importance wherever polymers are present in small dimensions,” said Dr. Han.

An educational component of the research plan includes involving students with disabilities and involving Native American students in research activities through summer camps and undergraduate research. The goals include introducing and encouraging student interest in materials science, mechanics of materials, micromechanics and other areas. Selected undergraduate students at NDSU also will be participating in the research program through competitive compensated research positions.

Dr. Han joined the NDSU faculty in the Department of Civil Engineering in 2005. He received a degree in mathematics from the University of Stuttgart in Stuttgart, Germany, and advanced degrees in applied mechanics and civil engineering from the Darmstadt University of Technology, Darmstadt, Germany, and the University of Hannover in Hannover, Germany, respectively. He previously conducted research at The Max Planck Institute for Metals Research, Stuttgart, Germany, as well as at Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif., and at The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.

Since 1996, fourteen faculty members at NDSU have received prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER awards. “Continued growth of research programs at NDSU and the National Science Foundation CAREER awards to NDSU faculty illustrate the caliber of research activities across campus,” said Philip Boudjouk, vice president for research, creative activities and technology transfer.

National Science Foundation CAREER awardees at NDSU have received $5 million in grants to conduct research in chemistry, civil and electrical engineering, coatings and polymeric materials.

The National Science Foundation CAREER program recognizes and supports the early career-development activities of scholars who are likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century. Recipients are chosen on the basis of creative career development plans that integrate research and education within the context of their university’s mission.

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