Welcome to my homepage! I am Behrooz Ferdowsi, currently an Associate Research Scholar in the Department of Geosciences at Princeton University. Previously, I was a Harry H. Hess Postdoctoral Fellow (2017-2019) at Princeton Geosciences. I am primarily working with Professor Allan M. Rubin on developing constitutive laws for rock friction, and on revisiting the physical basis for an existing empirical constitutive modeling framework for frictional behavior of rocks and other Earth materials, known as the "rate- and state-dependent friction" framework. I am also collaborating with Professor Rubin on further understanding the origins of slow slip events (also known as slow earthquakes). My research is currently supported by funds from the U.S. Army Research Office, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. National Science Foundation, for all of which I am very grateful.
Before coming to Princeton in June 2017, I was a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, Sediment Dynamics Laboratory (PennSeD) and a Synthesis Postdoctoral Fellow of the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics (NCED) (February 2015 to May 2017). At PennSeD, I worked with Professor Douglas J. Jerolmack (UPenn, Earth and Environmental Science) on sediment transport in gravel-bed rivers, subsurface to surface evolution of riverbeds, granular controls of sediment transport in mountains and hillslopes, and geophysical landscape evolution. I earned my PhD (Dr. sc.) in September 2014, from ETH Zurich (Switzerland), Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering.
I am strongly committed to and actively involved in academic and educational activities that improve the current situation in Geosciences and STEM fields in the US, toward building more inclusive environments for persons of all genders and backgrounds, increasing of diversity, and broadening the participation and advancement of under-represented groups and minoritized persons.
Information for Princeton University undergraduate students participating in the ReMatch Program
I am participating as a mentor for first and second-year undergraduate students in the ReMatch program of the Office of Undergraduate Research. I am very much interested in collaborating with students, with my mentor Prof. Allan M. Rubin as the department faculty advisor, for research opportunities in spring and summer 2021. You should feel free to reach out to me (at my email address below) if you have questions, or if you would like to discuss more. I will be also happy to organize virtual meetings with Allan, myself, and you, if you would like to meet and discuss. I plan to attend the ReMatch “e-Meet Again and Chat Some More” meetings on November 10 and 13, and I hope to meet many of you there.
My research activities are at the interface of Computational Sciences and Computational Physics, Mechanics of Materials, Geophysics, Geology, Geological Engineering, and Soft and Granular Matter Physics. I work on longstanding and exciting problems and questions related to rock friction and earthquake fault mechanics, geophysical landscape evolution, soil and sediment mechanics, soil and sediment transport, as well as other related topics in geology and geophysics. I am generally interested in using a broad range of tools (leaning toward computational, analytical and physics-based modeling methods), for connecting observations in the area of Solid Earth Geosciences broadly, i.e. Earth's surface and subsurface processes, to their physical and chemical origins as quantitatively as possible, across the scales. The immediate applications of my research are in prediction and modeling of geohazards (earthquakes, earthflows, and landslides, as some examples), flow and failure of geomaterials in different environmental conditions, further understanding the processes that shape the surface and subsurface of the Earth (and other planets), as well as the response of these processes to perturbations. To make substantial scientific advances about many of these questions and in many of these research areas, we also need new developments in applied mathematics, applied mechanics, and observational and computational methods, driven by laboratory and field-based experiments. That is the direction I am moving toward. I am also looking forward to and excited for collaborating with a broad and diverse group of scientists and engineers about these questions. Some of my more specific interests include, but are not limited to:
Please see my research page for more information.
- Physics of granular media and applications of soft condensed matter phyiscs in geosciences, geological engineering, and geophysics;
- Frictional behavior and rheology of Earth materials;
- Micromechanics of shear banding, strain localization, and stick-slip instabilities in granular (geomaterials) and more broadly amorphous materials;
- Development of constitutive laws and equations of state for Earth and planetary materials, and further understanding the molecular or statistical mechanical theory behind these constitutive equations (that are otherwise some educated guesses);
- Computational physics and multi-scale modeling approaches in geosciences, geophysics, and engineering: continuum (finite elemenet method, computational fluid dynamics methods), discontinuum (discrete element method, molecular dynamics), and coupled modeling approaches (finite element coupled to discrete element methods, computational fluid dynamics coupled to discrete element method);
- With Professor Jane Willenbring (Stanford University, Department of Geological Sciences) and Dr. Emma Harrison (Stanford University, Department of Geological Sciences), I am working on the implications and controls of slow granular deformations for the rate of soil transport and mixing. The first results of this work were presented at the AGU Annual Meeting (2018).
- With Enrique Miguel del Castillo '19 (Princeton, now Ph.D. student at Stanford University), I am continuing to work on the grain-scale physics of critical-taper theory and mountain-building processes.
- With Professor Jean-François Molinari (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), Dr. Guillaume Anciaux (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), and Manon Eugénie Voisin--Leprince (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), I am working on coupled FEM and DEM simulations for earthquake fault mechanics and frictional problems in Earth and planetary materials.
- With Benjamin Alessio '21 (Princeton University), I am collaborating on frictional behavior and origins of stick-slip dynamics in sheared granular layers.
- With Professor Terry E. Tullis (Brown University), Dr. Nicholas M. Beeler (US Geological Survey), and Professor Pathikrit Bhattacharya (Indian Institute of Technology Bhubaneshwar), I am collaborating about the mechanisms of state evolution (i.e., what controls the state of a frictional interface) in rate- and state-dependent friction of Earth materials.
- With Professor Pathikrit Bhattacharya (Indian Institute of Technology Bhubaneshwar), I am collaborating on transient frictional behavior and rheology of fluid-saturated soil and sediment, with applications to Earth's surface processes.
- Regular member, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2020-present
- Regular member, American Physical Society (APS), 2017-present
- Regular member, Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC), 2015-present
- Regular member, American Geophysical Union (AGU), 2015-present
News and short notes
- AGU 2020: My National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics (NCED) postdoctoral team and I will give a virtual invited talk on "Earthcasting: Geomorphic prediction for society" at AGU 2020, in the session "EP024 - Prediction in Geomorphology, 20 Years Later I". We are grateful to the session conveners (Dr. Katy Barnhart, Dr. Evan Goldstein, Professor Allison M. Pfeiffer, and Dr. Tyler Doane) for their invitation. This presentation is scheduled for Wednesday, 9 December 2020, 17:30 - 17:34 PST, and more information about it can be found on the AGU meeting website here. I am also presenting a poster on my current research on rock friction, titled "The fault gouge response to abrupt changes of normal stress" in the session "MR015 - Earthquakes in the Laboratory II Posters". I will be "live" in the session for poster discussion on 16 December 2020. More info about the poster can be found here.
- 09-04-2020: I will give a virtual department seminar at the Department of Earth & Environmental Science, Temple University. The seminar is organized by Prof. Sujith Ravi, and I thank him for the invitation.
- 05-03-2020: Our paper on the granular phyiscs of rate- and state-dependent friction has been accepted for publication in Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. The paper can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.1029/2019JB019016, or at https://doi.org/10.1002/essoar.10503066.1 (open-access unformatted version).
- 04-20-2020: Congratulations to Enrique Miguel del Castillo '19 for winning an NSF GRFP fellowship to pursue his doctoral studies at Stanford University!
- 12-05-2019: At the American Geophysical Union Annual Meeting 2019, I am presenting a poster on our latest findings on the granular origins of rate- and state-dependent friction on Tuesday, 10 December 2019, 13:40 - 18:00, at the Moscone South - Poster Hall. The poster ID is T23D-0500.
- 10-07-2019: Dylan B. Lee's paper on the imprint of vegetation on desert dune dynamics has now been accepted in the Geophysical Research Letters! Congratulations Dylan!
- 09-23-2019: I will give a Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) Seminar, at the Earth & Planetary Sciences Department, University of California Santa Cruz, on December 6, 2019. The seminar is organized by Dr. Stephanie Taylor, and I thank her for the invitation.
- 06-27-2019: I will give a Solid Earth Brownbag seminar at Princeton University, Department of Geosciences, on November 22, 2019.
- 06-04-2019: Enrique M. del Castillo '2019 whom I had the pleasure of working with for his senior thesis research has recieved the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials (PRISM) Outstanding Senior Thesis Award and the Arthur F. Buddington Award of the Department of Geosciences. Enrique's senior thesis was advised by Profs. Blair Schoene and Allan M. Rubin and was titled "A Numerical and Field-data Evaluation of the Critical Taper Model for Orogenic Wedge Stability". Congratulations Enrique!
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On October 14, 2020, 21:01 EDT