George W. Pearsall Distinguished Lectures

Dean George W. PearsallThe George W. Pearsall Distinguished Lecture Series is named for an internationally recognized research engineer who served as dean of engineering twice, from 1969 to 1974 and 1982 to 1983.

During more than 30 years at Duke, George W. Pearsall, Sc.D., PE, was a beloved teacher, mentor and friend to hundreds of students and colleagues.

In 2013, the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science created this lecture series in his honor.

Read more about Dean Pearsall >>

Past George W. Pearsall Distinguished Lectures

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 - 3:30pm | Trent Semans Center for Health Education - Great Hall
Dean Mary Boyce - The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Columbia University


Mary C. Boyce (NAE) is Dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University in the City of New York and the Morris A. and Alma Schapiro Professor of Engineering. Prior to joining Columbia, she served on the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for over 25 years, leading the Mechanical Engineering Department from 2008 to 2013. She has mentored more than 40 M.S. thesis students and 25 Ph.D. students. Widely recognized for her scholarly contributions to the field, she has been elected a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Engineering. She leads the education and research mission of Columbia Engineering with more than 185 faculty, 1500 undergraduate students, 3100 graduate students, and 100 postdoctoral fellows. She is committed to facilitating and celebrating the creativity and innovation of students and faculty. She has launched a Columbia MakerSpace, created Ignition Grants to support student physical and digital ventures, initiated Columbia Design Challenges, including Confronting the Ebola Crisis and Urban Water, and established the SEAS Senior Design Expo. She also has inaugurated SEAS participation in the Columbia Startup Lab, and expanded entrepreneurship programming and the Columbia Venture Competition in close partnership with the University’s Columbia Entrepreneurship Initiative. She is a strong advocate for enabling interdisciplinary research collaborations across the School and the University, including extensively transforming research spaces and expanding the faculty body in cross-cutting fields as wide ranging as Data Science, Nano Science, Sensing and Imaging, Sustainability, and Engineering in Medicine. A dedicated engineering educator, she has been honored for her teaching at MIT, where she was named a MacVicar Faculty Fellow and received the Joseph Henry Keenan Innovation in Undergraduate Education Award. Dean Boyce earned her BS degree in engineering science and mechanics from Virginia Tech, and her MS and PhD degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT.


Soft composites offer new avenues for the design and fabrication of materials and devices that exhibit novel properties and functional behavior.  Engineering the interplay between the geometrical structuring of constituent materials and the large deformation behavior of the soft matrix enables structural transformations and tunable properties. Here we explore the mechanics and the design of soft composites through analytical and numerical modeling as well as through experiments on physical prototypes fabricated using multi-material 3D printing.  Examples include: layered structures which exhibit deformation-induced transformation of the layered pattern leading to concomitant changes in other attributes to manipulate wave propagation and phononic band gaps;  materials with alternating soft/stiff layered structures  which provide protective yet flexible armor while also providing a novel material design for soft actuators which transform local compressive loading to large scale rotational motion; and soft matrices augmented by stiff particles which provide deformation-induced morphing surface topologies with engineered surface topologies with the potential to influence a wide range in surface behavior.

Monday, April 13, 2015 - 3:30pm | Schiciano Auditorium Side A
Prof. Mark Asta, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of California, Berkeley

Mark Asta received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1993. He then joined Sandia National Laboratories as a postdoctoral researcher, and was promoted to senior member of technical staff in 1995. He joined the faculty of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University, as an Associate Professor in 2000, receiving tenure in 2003. In 2005 he joined UC Davis, as a full Professor in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, where he also served as vice-chair from 2008-2009. In 2010 he joined the faculty of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at UC Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, as a faculty scientist.  In 2012 he was appointed Department Chair of Materials Science and Engineering at UC Berkeley. Professor Asta’s research focuses on the development and application of atomistic and first-principles methods for computational simulations of the thermodynamic and kinetic properties of multiphase bulk materials, surfaces and interfaces. These methods are applied in the modeling of nano and meso-scale structure development in crystal growth from the melt and vapor, and as an integral component in computationally-guided design of materials for energy-related applications.  Professor Asta has co-authored over 200 manuscripts, and he has co-organized over 20 international workshops and symposia in the area of computational materials science. He is currently on the editorial board for the journal CALPHAD and is a key reader for Metallurgical and Materials Transactions. Professor Asta was awarded ASM International's Materials Research Silver Medal Award, which recognizes mid-career materials scientists whose individual and collaborative work has “had a major impact on the science of materials.”  In 2010 he was awarded as a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and in 2013 he received the TMS Electronic, Magnetic and Photonic Materials Division Distinguished Scientist/Engineer Award.


The discovery and design of new materials has often been a critical enabler in the development of new technologies. Whether considering semiconductor compounds for microelectronics, new electrode materials high-voltage batteries, or high-temperature alloys for energy conversion, the design and development of new materials continues to be central to enabling technological innovation. This talk will provide an overview of efforts aimed at using the modern framework of computational materials science to guide materials discovery and accelerate materials design. An overview will be given of the use of first-principles calculations, performed in a high-throughput mode, to develop databases for use in screening materials and for training data-analysis algorithms to guide discovery of new materials with targeted applications. In addition, the use of computational methods as the foundation for hierarchical multiscale modeling in the arena of materials design and development will be discussed. To highlight the main concepts, examples will be described in the context of materials for energy conversion and for advanced structural applications.


Friday, April 11, 2014 - 12:00pm | FCIEMAS Schiciano Auditorium Side B
Professor Alexander J. Smits, Princeton University

Alexander J. Smits is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton, as well as a Professorial Fellow at Monash University in Australia.  His research interests are centered on fundamental, experimental research in turbulence and fluid mechanics. In 2004, Dr. Smits received the Fluid Dynamics Award of the AIAA. In 2007, Dr. Smits received the Fluids Engineering Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the Pendray Aerospace Literature Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and the President's Award for Distinguished Teaching from Princeton University. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, the Australasian Fluid Mechanics Society, and he is a Member of the National Academy of Engineering.


Logarithmic scaling is one of the corner stones of our understanding of wall-bounded turbulent flows. In 1938, Clark B. Millikan advanced an overlap argument that framed the logarithmic variation of the mean velocity in simple dimensional terms. Seventy-five years later, however, basic aspects of this logarithmic region, such as its slope (described by von Karman’s constant), and its spatial extent, are still being debated. In addition, Townsend in 1976 proposed a logarithmic scaling for the streamwise and spanwise components of turbulence based on the attached eddy hypothesis, but to date the experimental verification has been elusive. Here, we use pipe flow measurements over a very large Reynolds number range to examine these expectations of logarithmic scaling, and show that pipe flows at sufficiently high Reynolds number reveal both expected and unexpected implications for our understanding and our capacity to model turbulence.

Friday, March 22, 2013 - 12:00pm | Fitzpatrick Center Schiciano Auditorium Side B
Prof. Gang Chen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Gang Chen is currently the Carl Richard Soderberg Professor of Power Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He obtained his Ph.D. degree from UC Berkeley in 1993 working under then Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien. He was a faculty member at Duke University (1993-1997), University of California at Los Angeles (1997-2001), before joining MIT in 2001. He is a recipient of the NSF Young Investigator Award, the ASME Heat Transfer Memorial Award, the R&D100 Award, and the MIT McDonald Award for Excellence in Mentoring and Advising. He is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering, a Guggenheim Fellow, an AAAS Fellow, an APS Fellow, and an ASME Fellow. He has published extensively in the area of nanoscale energy transport and conversion and nanoscale heat transfer. He is the director of Solid-State Solar-Thermal Energy Conversion Center funded by the US DOE’s Energy Frontier Research Centers program.


Understanding the transport of heat carriers at microscopic level leads to new ways to design better materials for thermal energy conversion and utilization. This talk will cover a few examples of extraordinary microscopic pictures of heat transport and show how to apply the new understanding to improve macroscale heat transfer and energy conversion materials and devices. After a brief introduction on the connection between nano and energy, the talk will demonstrates via both experiments and simulations that phonon mean free path in solids spans several orders of magnitude. This understanding is applied to engineer more efficient thermoelectric energy conversion materials and devices. In an opposite direction, the talk will discuss how to turn polymers from poor thermal conductors to highly thermally conductive materials. The talk will conclude by discussing theory and experimental results that show thermal radiation heat transfer at nanoscale can exceed the blackbody radiation by several orders of magnitude and the convergence of thermal radiation and heat conduction at nanoscale. Applications of these extraordinary heat transfer phenomena for energy applications will be discussed along the talk.