College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

CCEE students honored with University Graduate College Academic Awards

Three graduate students earn honors for achievements in research, teaching

The department of civil, construction and environmental engineering at Iowa State University (ISU CCEE) selected three graduate students for top university awards in research and teaching this semester.

Two students, Zhen Cui and Liang Cao, earned the Graduate College Research Excellence Award. This award, which is given each semester and summer session, recognizes students for outstanding research or creativity as demonstrated by theses and dissertations. ISU’s Graduate College states that students earning this award must balance research with academic success while being able to develop a well-written product.

Both Cui and Cao are pursuing doctoral degrees in civil engineering with a specialization in structural engineering. Dr. Alice Alipour, an assistant professor of structural engineering at ISU CCEE, is Cui’s major professor.

“Her Ph.D. dissertation is specifically focused on the performance assessment of highway bridges subject to environmental stressors and earthquake events,” Alipour said of Cui. “I am very proud of and amazed at her ability to capture the essence of risk and reliability analysis in her research.”

Dr. Simon Laflamme, an associate professor of structural engineering, is Cao’s major professor. Laflamme listed numerous examples of Cao’s work, such as publishing journal papers and conference proceedings, chairing conference sessions, and guiding others in research.

“Liang has been an outstanding student,” Laflamme said. “Over his studies at ISU, he has published five journal papers … one submitted journal paper, two journal papers in preparation, six published conference proceedings, chaired two conference sessions, and significantly guided four students in our department with their research.”

Alireza Sassani, a doctoral student in civil engineering with a specialization in geomaterials engineering, will receive the Graduate College Teaching Excellence Award. Sassani is being awarded this honor for his outstanding achievements in teaching. The award is offered each semester to recognize and encourage exceptional teaching accomplishments by graduate students. Dr. Halil Ceylan is a professor of geotechnical/materials engineering in the department of civil, construction and environmental engineering and Sassani’s major professor.

“The teaching evaluations and ratings that Alireza has from past years reflects his dedication and high level of understanding of concrete materials to teaching CE382 (civil engineering 382: Design of Concretes) labs and clearly proves [that] he deserves to be nominated for this award,” Ceylan said.

All recipients will receive a letter of commendation from ISU President Steven Leath as well as a certificate of achievement signed by the ISU president and the graduate dean and an honor cord to be worn at graduation. In addition, CCEE students earning this recognition will receive a cash award from their department.

Learn more about graduate student opportunities at ISU CCEE by visiting our website. Check us out on social media by following our department on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (Iowa State University Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering and ISUConE).