Reza Moini received NSF CAREER Award

Sept. 19, 2023

CEE assistant professor Reza Moini has been awarded the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award to understand and engineer a new generation of concrete composites, inspired by naturally tough materials such as bone and mother-of-pearl, to allow more resilient and efficient infrastructure.

CAREER awards, administered under the Faculty Early Career Development Program, are the NSF’s most prestigious recognition and support for junior faculty who “have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.”

“We want to understand and engineer the fracture behavior of architected concrete inspired by the brick-and-mortar arrangement of nacre (mother-of-pearl) and tubular arrangements within cortical bone,” Reza said about his CAREER project. “In addition to using numerical and analytical approaches, we are developing advanced manufacturing techniques, such as laser processing and robotic additive manufacturing to enhance our ability to understand of these architected materials. Together, these tools give us a broad starting design menu for tailoring the materials’ mesoscale morphology. It is important for architected materials and concrete additive manufacturing communities to develop tools that facilitate the study, engineering, use, and eventually adoption of sometimes relatively complex designs of materials. Thus, we aim to develop platforms and algorithms not only to conduct our research but also to help translate conceptual designs into adaptable toolpaths.”

Concrete is the most common human-made commodity, used to build civil and energy infrastructure. However, without reinforcement, concrete suffers from low resistance to cracking and abrupt failure. To improve the shortcomings in mechanical response of cement-based materials, the project aims to understand the ways in which applying concepts from natural counterparts with hard and soft constituents can be used to engineer stronger architected concrete. The new understanding can have potential applications in critical civil infrastructure and resilient structural applications.

“This is an important recognition for Dr. Moini’s work and a great stimulus to push the boundaries and expand his pioneering, yet cutting-edge research on tough, bioinspired, architected concrete materials” Said Civil and Environmental Engineering Chair, Prof. Branko Glisic.

“I work very closely with the undergraduates and graduate students and post-docs in my group to help them build new perspectives in research conduct through the practice of critical research conduct,” Moini said. “We ask many questions, challenge ourselves to design delicate experiments and make careful observations, based on which we develop hypotheses to probe further and prove wrong.

“Mentoring and advising students is perhaps the most fruitful part of my role – to see the scientific research and scientific minds mature synergistically in the curiosity-driven process of testing new ideas and fundamental questions,” Moini added. “In working with my group, I constantly learn from them many of whom have greatly contributed to this work so far.”

Moini joined the CEE faculty in 2021. His research is broadly in the area of fracture mechanics, manufacturing, and bio-inspired design of architected and additively manufactured infrastructure materials. He directs Architected Materials and Additive Manufacturing (AM)2 lab and is affiliated with Princeton Materials Institute (PMI) and Andlinger Center for Energy and Environment at Princeton.

The CAREER project is set to Start Nov. 01, 2023. For more information about Moini’s research please visit