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Civil Engineering prof wins president's research award


Photos from award ceremony

University Experts Guide

Sacramento State structural engineering Professor Ben Fell is this year’s recipient of the President’s Award for Research and Creative Activity. He was honored in a ceremony on Wednesday, April 24, in the University Union, Forest Suite. At the event, Fell presented a lecture titled “Towards Seismically Resilient Homes with Increased Life-Cycle Performance.”

Ben Fell

Professor Ben Fell with President Alexander Gonzalez, left, and Interim Provost Charles Gossett at the award ceremony.

First given in 1989, the award honors faculty who have made significant contributions in the previous five years to a discipline through scholarly activity, creative/artistic endeavors, or research and publication. The award includes a professional development grant of $1,500 for use by the recipient to further his or her research or creative activity.

Since coming to Sacramento State four years ago, Fell has helped secure two major federal grants. The more recent is from the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, a subsidiary of the National Science Foundation, worth $1.2 million. The multiyear award, in conjunction with Stanford University, is meant to improve the performance of residential structures during an earthquake. Read more about the grant and Fell’s work here.

Fell says he hopes to secure additional private funding to supplement his seismic research; that would allow him to explore the use of structural insulated panels in building seismic-resistant walls. “This would present another option to the research we have done on these structures,” he says. It also would provide his students with valuable hands-on experience preparing them for construction management.

Fell’s knack for engineering was sparked as a child watching his father build the family home in upstate New York. The first in his family to get a college degree, he received his bachelor’s from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., his master’s from Stanford and his Ph.D. from UC Davis.

“I couldn’t be happier that Professor Fell has been selected to receive the President’s Research Award this year,” says College of Engineering and Computer Science Dean Emir Jose Macari. “Ben has been a tremendous contributor to our college’s research enterprise. He embodies excellence in everything he does. Not only is he one of our best researchers … he is also one of our best teachers and a tremendous contributor to society.”

For more information about the award, including past recipients, visit For media assistance, contact Sacramento State Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.

– Alan Miller