John Lambros named Willett Professor of Engineering
Aerospace engineering Professor John Lambros was recently named as a Donald Biggar Willett Professor of Engineering—a recognition that goes to faculty members who demonstrate excellence in research, teaching, and professional service.
“Among his peers, John is considered as one of the world’s finest experimentalists in solid mechanics, with emphasis on the development and application of advanced experimental techniques to understand the impact and failure response of complex materials,” said Bliss Professor and Head of the Department of Aerospace Engineering Philippe Geubelle. “Since he came to the U of I in 2000, John has developed one of the premier experimental facilities in the high-strain-rate impact testing of advanced materials, including some of the most modern diagnostic tools such as high-speed cameras, Hopkinson bars, and laser loading set-ups.”
Recently, Lambros and his Ph.D. student O. Kingstedt, who is currently an assistant professor at the University of Utah, performed pioneering experiments imaging at 5 nanoseconds per frame laser-induced thin film spallation. For this work, they were awarded the 2017 Hetenyi Award for best paper in Experimental Mechanics.
“John has also made major contributions to the development of new diagnostic tools, especially using digital image correlation (DIC),” Geubelle said. “He has played an instrumental role in the development and application of DIC to three-dimensional measurements, multiscale problems, and nano-mechanics. With his 3D DIC tool, combined with probing techniques such as X-ray tomography, John is able to quantify the evolution of damage inside heterogeneous materials. His work on the development of multiscale DIC provides unique insights on the relationship between subscale damage and macroscopic response.”
Together with Prof. Sehitoglu from the Dept. of Mechanical Science and Engineering at Illinois, Lambros applied his novel multiscale DIC process to understand, and ultimately model, the mechanics of fatigue crack initiation in advanced nickel super-alloys.
“John’s ability to make key contributions in a wide range of technical areas shows his remarkable intellectual flexibility and his relevance to current application needs,” Geubelle said. “Most recently, with seed funding from the U of I Research Board and Lawrence Livermore National Lab, John initiated a program of study on the fatigue of additively manufactured titanium alloys and composite materials for aerospace applications.”
Lambros also directs the state-of-the-art Advanced Materials Testing and Evaluations Laboratory (AMTEL) on the U of I campus. It is considered one of the premier experimental facilities in the high-strain-rate impact testing of advanced materials.
A Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering, the Society for Experimental Mechanics, and the American Academy of Mechanics, Lambros has been a leader on several large research centers such as the Air Force-funded Midwest Structural Sciences Center and the Army-funded multi-university research initiative on stress wave mitigation. He has also been a valuable leader on the U of I campus, including overseeing a significant rise in the aerospace engineering graduate student population under his watch as Associate Head for Graduate Studies within the department during 2011-2016 and leading the introduction of an online MS program in 2014.
About Donald Biggar Willett
Although Donald Biggar Willett left the University of Illinois just a few credit hours short of earning a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, an initiative created to honor him means his name continues to be associated with high-caliber research in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois.
The Willett Research Initiatives in Engineering funds professorships, undergraduate and graduate student research, and related research activity. It honors the memory of Donald Biggar Willett (1897-1981) who attended the University of Illinois from 1916-1921.
Willett began his career as a partner in the family business, Suburban Coal and Supply Company. During the 1930s, he moved to Los Angeles and opened a tax accounting business. He died in 1981 at age 83. His wife, Elizabeth Marie Henning Willett, was a successful investor. She knew that her husband admired the U of I College of Engineering. She died in 1993 at age 91. In her will, she left a gift to the college in memory of her husband. That gift established the Willett Research Initiatives in Engineering, which supports Willett Professorships to increase the distinction of the college and its departments by recognizing and stimulating intellectual leadership and outstanding research.