Paving the way: A researcher dedicated to advancing the state-of-the-art in pavement engineering and science

2019 Outstanding Researcher award recognizes the career and graduate education contributions of Civil Engineering Professor Peter Sebaaly

Peter Sebaaly was presented with the award at the Honor the Best ceremony on May 14.


5/16/2019 | By: Nikki Moylan |

Peter Sebaaly, professor of civil engineering and director of the Western Regional Superpave Center, was named the University's 2019 Outstanding Researcher.

His fields of research involve pavement design and materials, pavement management and construction, and rehabilitation and preservation.

"It's a nice recognition for an excellent career at a great institution," Sebaaly said.

Sebaaly has spoken at recent conferences about pavement engineering in places such as Lebanon, Bolivia, Germany, Greece, and Chile. His recent grants, from the Federal Highway Administration, Departments of Transportation in Nevada and Florida, and private industry have awarded him more than $4.5 million as part of national and state competitions.

"As the director of the pavement engineering and science program, Professor Sebaaly and his group spearheaded new advancements in pavement engineering that have improved the durability of asphalt materials, thus extending the life of roads and resulting in more effective and economical maintenance methods," said Ahmad Itani, Foundation Professor and chair of the civil and environmental engineering department.

Sebaaly is also a frequently published researcher, with his written contributions included in prestigious civil engineering publications like the Journals of the Transportation Research Board, the Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the International Journal of Pavement Engineering, and others.

"Professor Sebaaly's research has greatly impacted the University with his many awards and grants," said Manos Maragakis, dean of the College of Engineering. "The pavement engineering and science program does a lot of high-impact work when it comes to improving Nevada's and the nation's road infrastructure and providing students with unique opportunities to further their technical skills and pursue graduate studies."

Focus on graduate education sets pavement engineering and science program apart

A point of pride for Sebaaly is the comprehensive, fully funded graduate program in pavement engineering and science. All research activity in the program is conducted by graduate students who are actively supervised by a program manager, Murugaiyah Piratheepan and the program's other faculty, Elie Hajj and Adam Hand. Additionally, students in the graduate degree program generally receive full financial support to pursue their graduate degrees.

"We're probably the only program in the country that has a faculty that spent 18 years in a construction company and then came back to academia," Sebaaly said. "So that gives us a unique feature and allows us to offer courses in pavement construction that other universities don't."

Eight graduate courses are offered in the pavement engineering and science program at the College of Engineering, covering diverse topics such as pavement design, material design and production, pavement management, maintenance, and rehabilitation, and pavement construction. Exposure to all aspects of pavement is important to help students understand sustainability, so it's easier for them once they are trained and certified.

"At the end of their degrees, our students are ready to go to work, and well trained in an industry where they make the roads, and the government agency owns the road," Sebaaly said. "[The government is] glad to have engineers who want to work and are very appreciative."

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