Professor Alessandro Rotta Loria receives two young investigator awards

2022 has been a special year for Alessandro Rotta Loria, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He has received two young investigator awards from international societies active in the fields of geomechanics and geotechnical engineering.


Earlier this Spring, during the 2nd International Conference on Energy Geotechnics, held at the University of California, San Diego (USA), Rotta Loria received the Bright Spark Lecture Award from the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE). ISSMGE gives this award to an outstanding young scientist 36 years old or under, who is selected to give a keynote lecture and write a corresponding research paper in the context of a major ISSMGE-sponsored conference. For this occasion, Rotta Loria delivered a lecture titled “Energy Geostructures: Theory and Application” to propose an overview of the available theoretical and experimental knowledge to address the analysis and design of such disruptive technologies for the sustainability of built environments. 

Rotta Loria has contributed to the area of energy geostructures since the start of his academic career, developing a variety of studies that have turned an innovative concept into a class of proven technologies that currently provide renewable geothermal energy and structural support to many buildings and infrastructures worldwide. Such studies may be classified in three main categories: (1) the formulation of models and the development of laboratory experiments to unravel the influence of temperature variations linked to geothermal exploitations on the mechanics of the materials that characterize energy geostructures (i.e., soils and concrete); (2) the development of numerical simulations and full-scale field tests to unravel the complex behavior and performance of such technologies; and (3) sensing activities across the scale of city districts to assess the promise of energy geostructures to contribute to a distributed energy flow in dense urban areas. Much of this work has been gathered in the co-authored book by Rotta Loria “Analysis and Design of Energy Geostructures” that has been recently published by Academic Press (2019).


Later in Summer 2022, during the 16th International Conference of the International Association for Computer Methods and Advances in Geomechanics (IACMAG) held at the Politecnico di Torino (Italy), Rotta Loria received the e-PIC Award. IACMAG gives this award every four years to an outstanding young scientist of 35 years old or under, who is selected to give a plenary lecture at the corresponding international conference of IACMAG Conference. On this occasion, Rotta Loria has delivered a lecture titled “Thermo-mechanical Analysis of Energy Geostructures,” which focused on a variety of models he developed in recent years to predict the complex behavior and performance of such technologies. This additional recognition has exemplified the central role played by Rotta Loria in the international landscape of scientists working in the field of energy geostructures since its creation about two decades ago.

At Northwestern, Rotta Loria leads the Mechanics and Energy Lab – a research initiative developing fundamental and applied research centered on the subsurface: a highly resourceful space for the future of humankind on terrestrial and extraterrestrial planets. His scientific endeavors aim to understand, analyze, and predict the impacts of energy transfers on the behavior of geological and granular materials: from soils to beads and beyond. Encompassing numerical simulations, constitutive modeling, and experimental testing, his investigations address temporal problems lasting from seconds to centuries, and spatial problems ranging from the size of soil particles to cities. Applications of his research address urgent issues in renewable energy production and storage, construction, manufacturing, and environmental conservation.

McCormick News Article