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Robert L. Lytton Receives the 2017 Francis C. Turner Award

Thursday, March 23, 2017

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Dr. Robert Lytton, PhD., P.E., F.ASCE

The Transportation and Development Institute (T&DI) is pleased to announce the selection of Robert L. Lytton, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE to receive the 2017 Francis C. Turner Award for his distinguished career as an Innovator, practitioner, and teacher whose research and ideas have advanced transportation engineering in the areas of mechanics, soils, pavements, construction materials, climate effects, and nondestructive testing.

Dr. Lytton is a Professor and Fred J. Benson Chair in Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University; he is also the Director of the Center for Infrastructure Engineering at Texas Engineering Experiment Station and a Research Engineer with the Texas Transportation Institute. Professor Lytton teaches undergraduate courses in geotechnical engineering and graduate courses in foundations on expansive soils, systems design of pavements, micromechanics of civil engineering materials, and pavement evaluation (non-destructive testing). He has supervised numerous M.S. and Ph.D. students throughout his career, which spans over four decades as a professor at Texas A&M University.

Dr. Lytton's research interests are in the general areas of mechanics, soils, construction materials, climatic effects, and non-destructive testing. More specifically, he has interest and has done research in continuum mechanics, fracture mechanics, plasticity, soil dynamics, moisture diffusivity, and constitutive modeling. He developed the fracture mechanics approach that has successfully predicted reflection cracking and is the basis for the ongoing National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) project on modeling reflection cracking in hot mix asphalt overlays, of which he is the principal investigator. In the soils area, his interests and research have been in expansive soils theory and design and unsaturated earthquake constitutive testing and modeling. He developed the analysis method used in the test protocol that determines the anisotropic properties of unbound aggregates. In the area of climatic effects, he led one of the FHWA research projects that developed the current Enhanced Integrated Climatic Effects Model, which couples moisture flow with heat and temperature flow in pavements, including the surface effects of solar radiation, wind speed, and relative humidity. His background in unsaturated soil mechanics led to a collaboration with chemical engineering faculty in the discovery of the role of surface energy (Gibbs Free Energy) components on adhesive and cohesive bond energy in resisting fracture and promoting healing. It also led to the discovery of the mechanism of moisture damage and derived the fracture locus, which shows the role of film thickness in explaining the difference between adhesive and cohesive fracture. His interest in non-destructive testing led him to develop methods of measuring the viscoelastic properties of asphalt pavements in the field using impulse testing and of measuring the volumetric composition of asphalt, concrete, and base course or soil pavement layers using reflected ground penetrating radar signals. His interest in design and statistics has led to his contributions in evaluating the risk and reliability of pavement design methods including the variance of test methods.

Dr. Lytton has published over two hundred (200) papers in refereed journals in the areas of his interests and has been invited to present keynote addresses at international conferences in all of the areas of interest noted above. He has been the chairman for two terms of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee on Environmental Factors except Frost, which has been more appropriately re-named Committee on Unsaturated Soil Behavior. He is an active member and fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering, the Technical Committee TC-6 on Unsaturated Soils, and the Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists and was a founding member of the International Society of Asphalt Pavements. He is a member of the National and Texas Societies of Professional Engineers. He has been a member of the Post-Tensional Institute Technical Advisory Board and the American Concrete Institute Committee 360 on Concrete Foundations. He was a principal author of all three editions (1980, 1996, and 2003) of the Post-Tensioning Institute (PTI) design manual for post-tensioned foundations on expansive soils. In 2005 he was named one of the "Legends of Post-Tensioning" at the PTI national convention in Denver. In 2006 he was awarded the Construction Users' Round Table Construction Innovation Forum NOVA Award for the implementation of the method he developed to determine pavement layer composition by analyzing the reflected signals of ground penetrating radar. Since then, Dr. Lytton has been a keynote lecturer in many high level national and international pavement engineering conferences. He is a member of TRB and was that organization's Distinguished Lecturer for the Year 2000.