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Faculty member, former graduate student win K.B. Woods Award

Photo of Erik Loehr

Erik Loehr

The Transportation Research Board, a unit of the National Academies, announced Sept. 8 that an MU faculty member and a former graduate student from the College of Engineering won the K.B. Woods Award for their research paper titled “Effect of Number of Soil Strength Measurements on Reliability of Spread Footing Designs.”

The recipients were Erik Loehr, associate professor and interim department chair in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, and Dan Ding, who completed her doctorate in civil engineering at MU last fall. William Likos, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Engineering and former member of MU Engineering’s faculty, also worked on the paper.

The annual award recognizes the most outstanding paper published in the field of design and construction of transportation facilities. The TRB Executive Committee established it in 1971 to honor the 19th chairman of the Highway Research Board.

Photo of William Likos

William Likos

The paper, which was published in the Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, was written as part of a research project the trio conducted for a comprehensive geotechnical site characterization project with the Missouri Department of Transportation with other engineering faculty from MU and Missouri University of Science and Technology. The authors worked to improve specifications for load and resistance factor design and provide guidelines for designers to quantify the potential value of site characterization activities during the design phase. The guidelines will help designers make more rational decisions regarding the type and scope of site characterization activities.

Despite meeting weekly for two months and spending up to two hours revising the paper at each meeting, Ding said she did not expect to win the award. “We all were surprised that we won the award,” she said. “It was very exciting.”

The authors will be recognized in January in Washington, D.C., during the TRB’s 95th Annual Meeting, which Ding says is “the biggest conference in transportation and civil engineering.” Ding said in the meantime, she and Loehr are working on more results from the research and that they hope to publish more of their work.

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