George W. Pearsall Distinguished Lectures

George W. Pearsall is Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, and before he retired in 2001 he also was Professor of Public Policy Studies, at Duke University. Since 2011, he has also been Adjunct Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). He earned a Bachelor of Metallurgical Engineering (B.Met.E.) degree from RPI and then joined the Dow Chemical Company as a research engineer. He later received a Doctor of Science (Sc.D.) degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was on the MIT faculty for four years before coming to Duke in 1964. He served twice as Dean of Duke's School of Engineering.

Dr. Pearsall is a founding trustee of the Triangle Universities Center for Advanced Studies, Inc. (TUCASI), which facilitated the location of the National Humanities Center, the Microelectron¬ics Center of North Carolina, and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center in the Research Triangle Park. He helped initiate Duke's Program in Science, Technology, and Human Values, and he was the first director of an experimental program at Duke in Technology and the Liberal Arts. His research and consulting are concerned primarily with integrating failure analysis and risk assessment into the design process. In 2001, he was awarded the Triodyne Safety Award by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) for his contributions to safe design practices.

Past George W. Pearsall Distinguished Lectures

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.