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Greek Professor Wins Horace Mann Medal for Research, Societal Impact

Rosakis Palme-d'Academique
Professor Ares Rosakis of Caltech (second from right) has won the Horace Mann Medal for his research and the societal impact it has had. Credit: Rosakis.caltech.edu

Greek-born Professor Ares Rosakis, a graduate of Athens College, has won the 2020/2021 Horace Mann Medal for his research and mentoring skills, as well as being “a champion of societal impact that can be realized through the sciences.”

The Medal is awarded during every Commencement to a Brown University graduate school alum who has made significant contributions in their field. Much of his research can be applied to better construction techniques to lessen the effects of earthquakes.

Rosakis currently serves as the Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology at Caltech, where he started in 1982 as the Institute’s youngest tenure track faculty member. His work is highly interdisciplinary and combines basic science and technology.

Rosakis
Professor Rosakis of Caltech. Credit:

During his career, Rosakis has made a number of pioneering contributions to his field, according to a Brown University announcement. One of his research interests combines engineering fracture mechanics and geophysics.

Rosakis collaborated with seismologists to design experiments that accurately mimic the movement of the Earth’s crust during an earthquake in a controlled laboratory setting. One of his largest contributions in geophysics is the experimental discovery of super-shear ruptures (super-fast shear cracks that exceed the shear wave speed of the host solid), a phenomenon that is also observed during the rupturing of natural faults resulting to very destructive, super-shear earthquakes and tsunamis.

Greek professor’s work pivotal in understanding how structures can survive earthquakes

His work has helped scientists better understand the release of energy from large earthquakes in the form of seismic waves and how to apply this information to create safer buildings and infrastructure all around the world.

Rosakis also served as the fifth Director of the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories, known as (GALCIT), formerly known as the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory, and was the Otis Booth Leadership Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science.

In September of 1975, he moved to the United Kingdom to attend University College Oxford to study engineering science. Rosakis received his BA and MA degrees in Engineering Science from Oxford University in 1978.

Rosakis went on to earn his masters and PhD degrees in solid mechanics from Brown University. He joined Caltech and GALCIT as an assistant professor in 1982 as the Institute’s youngest tenure tract faculty member.

The Greek native was promoted to the ranks of associate and full professor in 1988 and 1993 respectively. In 2004, he was named the Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Mechanical Engineering. In 2013, he was honored as the inaugural recipient of the Otis Booth Leadership Chair, Division of Engineering and Applied Science.

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