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Researcher Highlight: Anand Puppala

Dr. Anand Puppala has been with The University of Texas at Arlington for over two decades. Dr. Puppala is a distinguished university professor for Civil Engineering and is Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering. He has been enrolled as a faculty member at UTA since 1996. He has obtained his BE, MSCE, and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Andhra, IIT Madras, and Louisiana State University respectively. Before joining UTA, Dr. Puppala started his career as a post-doctoral researcher in Louisianan Transportation Research Center (LTRC); a high-ranked research lab at Louisianan State University for three years. Soon after, he started his career at UTA.

In his teaching profession, Dr. Puppala received the UT system’s regents teaching award in 2010 and was recognized as the first engineering professor from UT Arlington to obtain the highest teaching honor in Texas. Dr. Puppala has obtained several awards including the College of Engineering’s “Outstanding Young Faculty” Award in 2000-2001 and the 2008 University Award for Outstanding Adviser. “To me, graduating master and Ph. D. students, teaching and training them in order to be eligible to reach high positions in both the academic and industrial environment is one the proudest accomplishments”, Puppala says. “Having the opportunity to lead and train students, watching them grow in their careers and become responsible citizens across the nation is what really makes me pleased. Industrial-related companies always ask me about the my students who were trained and graduated in my research group, so this is a testimony of my students’ hard work and successes which really makes me proud and happy.”

Throughout his research career, Dr. Puppala received the highest award in research for faculty members; University Distinguished Record of Research award; in 2012-13. He is one of the few faculty members within the university who are members of Academies of Distinguished Teachers and Distinguished Scholars. He has held several research positions including President of United States Universities Council on Geo technical Education and Research (USUCGER) from 2007-2009 and Chair of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)’s Geo technical Institute’s “Engineering Geology and Site Characterization” committee from 2003-2006. Puppala has also served as Chair of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)’s Geotechnical Institute’s “Engineering Geology and Site Characterization” committee from 2003-2006. Dr. Puppala is extensively involved with the National Academy of Science’s Transportation Research Board (TRB) since 1992 and as the chairman of the TRB committee on “Soil and Rock Instrumentation (AFS20) (2006-2012).” Dr. Pupala is currently the chair of the TRB Section on Geo technical Engineering (AFS00).

When Dr. Puppala was asked about his contributions to CTEDD, he answered: “CTEDD to me is a premier university transportation center in the country due to the way the center is challenging transportation equity, and investing in transportation planning, infrastructures, and asset management. CTEDD under Dr. Hamidi’s leadership has demonstrated that we actually can bring a lot of different research, in various disciplines in terms of transportation studies.” In collaboration with CTEDD, Dr. Puppala has published over 400 papers and presented many keynotes and presentations in national conferences such as TRB and American Society of Civil Engineering events. He believes that CTEDD seeks for hot transportation topics and performs well-checked research projects; departments that collaborate with CTEDD have the opportunity to conduct studies that help promote sustainability in urban transportation. He says that the ultimate goal for CTEDD shouldn’t only be focusing on research outreach but also promoting new ideas, commercial products, and patents.

Dr. Puppala has been working on different research topics at UTA with different faculties. In the field of Civil Engineering, his research background has mostly been focused on the stabilization of expansive soils, sustainable utilization of recycled materials, dams and embankments, in situ intrusive methods for site characterization, and pavement material characterization studies.

Dr. Puppala’s research area in transportation studies is mostly on transportation infrastructure asset management. He says, “in line with one of the major goals of CTEDD, investing dollars on maintaining transportation infrastructures is cheaper than replacing the existing material and is also studying unmanned aerial vehicles for infrastructure health monitoring.” Dr. Puppala is working on a new project to help develop a multi-criteria decision-making approach by accounting both resilient and sustainability factors in building resilient transportation infrastructure on problematic test site conditions with poor sub grade soils.

Despite all of his external positions, Dr. Puppala keeps busy discussing his students’ projects, working with faculties, and addressing different research issues. Puppala sits in various meetings throughout his day, including having regular meetings with the VP of research on innovative ideas. Dr. Puppala tries to create opportunities and new networking lines at UTA, as well as in other universities and industries.