Vakakis wins Humboldt Research Award


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Alexander Vakakis
Alexander Vakakis
Professor Alexander Vakakis, a Donald Biggar Willett Professor in MechSE, has been named the winner of a 2020 Humboldt Foundation Research Award.

The award is granted in recognition of a researcher's entire achievements to date to academics whose fundamental discoveries, new theories, or insights have had a significant impact on their own discipline and who are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements in the future.

The Humboldt Foundation is strongly rooted in Germany, but academics from abroad, regardless of their discipline or nationality, may be nominated for a Humboldt Research Award. Award winners are invited to spend a period of up to one year cooperating on a long-term research project with specialist colleagues at a research institution in Germany.

“This will involve short academic visits to Germany over the next year,” Vakakis said. “Apart from my personal research collaborations, I hope to use this opportunity to foster synergies between MechSE and the Universities of Stuttgart and Hannover.”

Vakakis’s current research aims in intentional utilization of nonlinearity in design. This includes the implementation of nonlinear targeted energy transfers for aeroelastic instability (flutter) and vortex-induced vibration suppression, seismic mitigation, blast protection, and vibration/shock isolation of mechanical and structural components; exploring the dynamics of non-smooth dynamical systems, with emphasis in vibro-impacting systems and systems with friction; considering new methods for nonlinear system identification and reduced order modeling; analyzing, fabricating, characterizing, and testing new classes of nonlinear acoustic metamaterials and granular media; implementing nonlinearity in the micro- and nano-scales; proposing new ways for nonlinear vibration energy harvesting; and performing fundamental  studies in nonlinear dynamics and acoustics. Since 1996, he has co-directed the Linear and Nonlinear Dynamics and Vibrations Laboratory with Lawrence A. Bergman of the Department of Aerospace Engineering.

In addition to being very active in his research, Vakakis is an excellent teacher. He has been included on the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent in 16 semesters over the past ten years, while teaching several undergraduate courses and advanced graduate classes.

Vakakis joined the MechSE Department in 1990 after completing his PhD in Applied Mechanics from the California Institute of Technology that same year.

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This story was published December 19, 2019.