PhD candidate earns award to partially fund research into sliding behavior between soil-deposit and structure foundation systems

Marzieh Shahraki.

By Peter Murphy

Published April 23, 2021

“This research addresses significant knowledge gaps that exist at the nexus between the natural and built environments,” says Marzieh, Shahraki, a PhD candidate in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental engineering, “which will enable risk-informed and resilient design and retrofit of mission-critical infrastructure.”

Mark Diamond Research Fund winner

“Marzi’s research has the potential to significantly impact the way we consider energy transfer between soils, foundations and superstructures. ”
Anthony Tessari, Assistant Professor
Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering

Shahraki, who specializes in geotechnical engineering, earned the Mark Diamond Research Fund (MDRF) award from the University at Buffalo’s graduate student association to support her work. Shahraki plans to use the $3,000 in funding to acquire several tools and instruments to better understand soil-structure interaction (SSI) 

“My research is dedicated to examining complex and localized behavior at the interface between soil-deposit and foundation systems,” Shahraki says. “This study aims to investigate the sliding behavior at the soil and structure interface.”

According to Shahraki, SSI can emerge as a natural source of energy dissipation. In previous exploratory studies, sliding and rocking of foundation have been shown to reduce the seismic load demand of a structure due to energy dissipation Shahraki cites a lack of large-scale physical testing for limitations in current literature on the topic. 

“This research will provide valuable insights accompanied with experimental data that will be used to validate numerical models for nonlinear SSI simulations,” Shahraki says. 

Working in UB’s Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory (SEESL) provided Shahraki with valuable experience developing a step-by-step research plan explaining why and how different experiments should be conducted. “Working in SEESL, I got the idea that I can introduce novel aspects to my current research by better understanding the friction mechanism at interface using instruments like tactile pressure sensors,” Shahraki says. 

This research could have a significant impact on society, according to Shahraki,. “The benefits go well beyond academia. We could see significant economic advantages through a reduction in service time and repairs following an extreme event,” Shahraki says, “the experimental data we have provided will substantially benefit the validation of numerical tools to assist in the design and analysis of future structures.”

Shahraki’s advisor, assistant professor in civil, structural and environmental engineering, Anthony Tessari, also recognizes the effect Shahraki’s research could have on disciplines within geotechnical engineering. “Marzi’s research has the potential to significantly impact the way we consider energy transfer between soils, foundations and superstructures,” Tessari says, “the generous support of the Mark Diamond Research Fund allows us to investigate this interface using novel instrumentation and advance the fundamental knowledge and experimental data available on the subject.”

For more information on Shahraki's research, please visit the researcher's website.