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Civil and Environmental Engineering Research

Geotechnical and Transportation Engineering

Geotechnical and transportation engineering research at Washington State University merges geotechnics and pavement mechanics to provide solutions to infrastructure problems.

The geotechnical engineering research program encompasses both traditional and emerging topics in the fields of geomechanics and geology and focuses on the behavior of natural materials in engineered systems. This active program involves fundamental and applied research using analytical, numerical, and experimental methods.

The pavement engineering research program focuses on developing innovative, economical, and reliable technologies for highway and airport pavements. It involves characterizing and modeling the entire pavement structure from surface to base course and incorporating various paving materials including asphalt material, concrete material, aggregates, recycled materials, and subgrade soils. Emphasis is given to both fundamental theories and practical applications in design, construction, and rehabilitation of the transportation infrastructure.

Geotechnical and transportation engineering research programs have been supported by funds from the National Science Foundation, US Geological Survey, US Department of Transportation (DOT), Washington State DOT, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), US Department of Energy, and private industries.

Research areas include:

  • Microstructure characterization and modeling of geomaterials
  • X-ray computed tomography (WACXIT)
  • Constitutive and micromechanical modeling
  • Natural and man-made hazard mitigation
  • Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering
  • Sustainable materials and construction
  • Characterization and modeling of paving materials
  • Pavement design and structural analysis
  • Pavement evaluation and rehabilitation
  • Engineering Education


The Geotechnical and Transportation Engineering laboratories include state-of-the-art testing equipment for soils and concretes. The Geotechnical Lab includes consolidometers, triaxial, direct shear and resonant column apparatuses. The Washington Center for Asphalt Technology (WCAT) includes facilities for the characterization of asphalt cements and concretes. In addition, a mobile drill rig is available for obtaining in-situ samples. Geotechnical and pavement researchers have access to the Washington Center for X-ray and Imaging Technology (WACXIT) that provides a unique facility for the non-destructive three-dimensional visualization of microstructural features within the interior of opaque solids.

Affiliated Centers, Institutes, and Labs

Geotechnical Engineering Laboratory

Educates engineering professionals and students and enables novel solutions for sustainable infrastructure in collaboration with academic and industry partners.

Washington Center for Asphalt Technology (WCAT)

Developing innovative, economical, and reliable technologies for highway and airport pavements

Washington Center for X-ray and Imaging Technology (WACXIT)

Promotes the advanced microstructure characterization, simulation, and design of solids, including metals, ceramics, geological, and biomaterials


Antonio Carraro
Carraro, Antonio 335-8624
Xianming Shi
Shi, Xianming
Department Chair
(509) 335-7088
Haifang Wen
Wen, Haifang
Director of WCAT 335-4602

Theses & Dissertations


  • Numerical and Experimental Study of the Performance of Deep Cement Stabilized Soils
    Elly Mukungu bulega, MS, Chair: Balasingam Muhunthan
  • Optimizing Asphalt Pavement Performance for Climate Zones Within Washington State
    Skyler Lee Chaney, MS, Chair: Haifang Wen









  • Energy Dissipation and Critical State Strength of Silty Sands
    Nicholas Craig Szot, MS, Chair: Balasingam Muhunthan



  • Numerical Modeling of Dynamic Soil-Pile-Structure Interaction
    Surendran Balendra, MS, Chair: Adrian Rodriguez-Marek
  • Nonlinear Response Spectra of Forward-Directivity Ground Motions
    Joanna Lyn Gillie, MS, Chair: Adrian Rodriguez-Marek
  • A Methodology for Obtaining Traffic Data Input to the NCHRP 1-37A PDG
    Jingjuan Li, MS, Chair: Athanassios T. Papagiannakis
  • Microstructure Characterization of Compacted Soils Using X-Ray Computed Tomography
    Nicholas North Paveglio, MS, Chair: Balasingam Muhunthan
  • Sand State and Performance Analysis of Micropiles
    Shanzhi Shu, PhD, Chair: Balasingam Muhunthan




  • Aggregate Imaging System for Characterizing Fine and Coarse Aggregate Shape
    Thomas Fletcher, MS, Chair: Eyad Masad
  • Comparative Analysis of Axial and Shear Moduli of Asphalt Mixes
    Shadi-Mohd Saadeh, MS, Chair: Eyad Masad
  • Seismic Site Response for the February 28, 2001 Nisqually Earthquake, Washington
    Angela Taylor, MS, Chair: Adrian Rodriguez-Marek


  • Relating the Microstructure of Asphalt Mixtures to Their Constitutive Behavior
    Ala Abbas, MS, Chair: Tom Papagiannakis
  • A Numerical Model for Self-Weight Consolidation of Soil
    King-Hong Chin, MS, Chair: B. Muhunthan
  • Performance Prediction of Asphalt Mixes Using the Superpave Gyratory Compactor
    Samer Dessouky, MS, Chair: Eyad Masad
  • Implementation of High Performance Concrete in Washington State
    Lisa James, MS, Chair: Eyad Masad
  • Energy Dissipation and Critical Strength of Sand
    Dana Olcott, MS, Chair: B. Muhunthan


  • Site Response Studies for Evaluating the 1997 Uniform Building Code
    Kenneth Cecil, MS, Chair: Balasingham Muhunthan
  • Direct Shear Test Modeling of Micropiles Used for Slope Remediation
    Anthony Coyne, MS, Chair: Carlton Ho
  • Measurements and Modeling of Strain Distribution in Asphalt Mixes
    Somadevan Niranjanan, MS, Chair: Eyad Masad
  • Some Aspects of Energy Dissipation During Shear Deformation of Sand
    Maheswaran Raveendra, MS, Chair: Balasingam Muhunthan
  • Internal Structure Analysis of Asphalt Mixes to Improve the Simulation of Superpave Gyratory Compaction of Field Conditions
    Laith Tashman, MS, Chair: Eyad Masad
  • Theoretical Modeling and Field Instrumentation of an Earth Retention System for Seismic Response
    Julio Vela, PhD, Chair: Carlton Ho


  • A Study of Lateral Earth Pressure on Retaining Walls Due to Highway Live Load Surcharge
    Teresa Gilman, MS, Chair: Balasingam Muhunthan


  • Relative Effects of Pavement Roughness and Traffic Congestion on Vehicle Excitation
    Fernando Garcia De Quevedo, MS, Chair: Tom Papagiannakis
  • Permeability Simulation of Reconstructed Anisotropic Soil Medium
    Eyad Masad, PhD, Chair: Balasingam Muhunthan
  • Permeability of Fine Grained Soils
    Mike Nilsson, MS, Chair: Balasingam Muhunthan
  • Repeatability and Uncertainty of Seismic Site Response
    Michael Woodworth, MS, Chair: Susan Chang


  • A New Index for Pavement Roughness
    Balasingam Raveendran, MS, Chair: Tom Papagiannakis


  • Discrete Element Method for Slope Stability Analysis
    Adrian Rodriguez-Marek, MS, Chair: Carlton Ho
  • An Energy Based Model for Soil Liquefaction
    David Running, PhD, Chair: Balasingam Muhunthan
  • Shear Strength Parameters of Incinerated Municipal Solid Waste Ash
    Jubran Said, MS, Chair: Balasingam Muhunthan


  • Soil Fabric Changes During Consolidation
    Amy Adamcewicz, MS, Chair: Balasingam Muhunthan
  • The Elastic Parameters of a Mixture of Base Aggregate and Tire Chips
    Wen-Pi Liu, MS, Chair: Tom Papagiannakis
  • Characteristics of Rubber-Modified Asphalts
    Trent Lougheed, MS, Chair: Tom Papagiannakis
  • ABAQUS: A Finite, Element Tool for Studying Temperature Effects on Plain Jointed Concrete Pavements
    Eyad Masad, MS, Chair: Ramzi Taha
  • Weigh-in-Motion Data QA Based on 5-Axle Tractor Semitrailer Truck Steering Axle Load Analysis
    Weston Ott, MS, Chair: Tom Papagiannakis
  • Mechanisms of Swelling Pressure and Hydraulic Conductivity of Clays
    Ramkishore Rao, MS, Chair: Balasingam Muhunthan
  • The Evaluation and Calibration of Weigh-in-Motion Systems
    Kevin Senn, MS, Chair: Tom Papagiannakis