Faculty Profile

Ahmed Elbanna

Civil and Environmental Engineering
Ahmed Elbanna
Ahmed Elbanna
Assistant Professor
2219 Newmark Civil Engineering Bldg
205 N. Mathews
Urbana Illinois 61801
(217) 300-4664

Primary Research Area

  • Structural Engineering


  • PhD. Civil Engineering California Institute of Technology, USA 2011
  • MSc. Applied Mechanics California Institute of Technology, USA 2006
  • MSc. Structural Engineering Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University 2005
  • BSc. Civil Engineering Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University 2003


Ahmed E. Elbanna holds a Ph.D. in civil engineering (2011) and an M.S. in applied mechanics (2006), both from the California Institute of Technology, and an M.S. in structural engineering (2005) and B.S. in civil engineering (2003) from Cairo University. He joined the faculty in 2013.￿

His honors include the National Science Foundation CAREER award, 2018, Fellowship of the National Center of Supercomputing Applications, 2015, the George Housner Fellowship, California Institute of Technology, 2005, and a Certificate of Honor, National Ceremony of Science, Egypt, 2004.

Academic Positions

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign 2013-
  • Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Physics, University of California at Santa Barbara 2011-2012

For more information

Research Statement

Our research focuses on problems in theoretical and applied mechanics of solids, in the presence and absence of pore fluids, with special emphasis on fracture, deformation and wave propagation. Currently, we have three major research thrusts:


The long term objective of this research is to link small scale processes in fault zones with large scale dynamic rupture characteristics, wave propagation, seismic and aseismic slip, and long term earthquake cycle models to provide rigorous predictive tools for nonlinear fault dynamics that can ultimately inform next generation seismic hazard models. Our work is contributing to the development of micromechanical models of deformation and failure in granular materials, modeling dynamic ruptures in heterogeneous fault zones and branched fault systems, identification of hydro-thermo- mechanical weakening mechanisms specific to fault gouge, investigation of strain localization and stick-slip dynamics in sheared and vibrated granular layers with breakable particles, and establishment of novel hybrid numerical techniques for multi-scale fault zone dynamics.


The long term objective of this research is to develop a rigorous understanding for the effect of micro-structure and local topology on deformation and failure of networked materials. Specific systems of interest include polymer networks as arising in hydrogels and soft tissues and trabecular networks in human bone. Current efforts focus on multi-scale constitutive modeling and fracture in soft materials including rate dependence, damage evolution, poro-mechanical effects and structure-function relations as well as the development of quasi-continuum models for domain decomposition in fractured lattice-like materials.


The primary objective of this research is to design materials with adaptive, tunable and extreme elastodynamic properties using principles from biology and geophysics that will transform applications in impact resistance, wave modulation, and earthquake engineering. Current efforts focus on theoretical understanding of the nature of mechanical band gaps, elastodynamic response of layered systems, novel applications of transformation elastodynamics, and modeling of negative stiffness structural elements.

To address these challenging topics we use a variety of theoretical techniques stemming from non-equilibrium statistical thermodynamics (shear transformation zone theory), computational mechanics (finite element and boundary integral methods), optimization theory (topology optimization), machine learning, and nonlinear dynamics (stability analysis, reduced order models and chaos theory).

Research Interests

  • Friction and fracture
  • Mechanical metamaterials.
  • Mechanics and physics of networked and biological materials
  • Mechanics and physics of earthquakes and granular matter

Selected Articles in Journals

Articles in Conference Proceedings

  • "Towards physics based seismic PRA." Ahmed Elbanna,Zahra Mohaghegh, Erbie Kee, Seyed Reihani, Reza Kazemi and Shawn Rodgers. Proceedings of 2013 ANS National Meeting, November 2013
  • "Size dependence of strength and a model reduction technique for frictional systems failing at multiple length scales." Elbanna A., Heaton T. H. Proceedings of the 16th National Congress on Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, Penn. State, June 2010
  • "Dynamics of self-healing slip pulses on frictional interfaces: Steady propagation, stability properties and interaction with stress heterogeneities" Elbanna, A. E., Lapusta, N., and Heaton, T. H. Proceedings of the 16 th National Congress on Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, Penn State, June 2010
  • "Dynamics of Self-Healing Slip Pulses on Velocity-Weakening Interfaces: Formation, steady propagation and interaction with stress heterogeneity" Elbanna A. E., Lapusta N., and Heaton, T. H. AGU Fall Meeting, 2009
  • "Size dependence of stress in materials with self-organized critical prestress" Heaton, T.H., A. E. Elbanna, and J. Marsden. AGU Fall Meeting, 2008

Invited Lectures

  • A quasi-continuum approach for modeling fracture in networked materials
  • Peeling, Pulling, and Cracking: Probing the Toughness Landscape in Polymeric Materials
  • Breaking Badly: Chasing Fractures from Tectonic to Tabletop Scales
  • Breaking Badly: Chasing Fractures from Tectonic to Tabletop Scales
  • Modeling Dynamic Ruptures with High Resolution Fault Zone Physics
  • Extreme Mechanics on the Surface of Our Planet
  • Towards Dynamic Rupture Simulations with high resolution fault zone physics
  • Shear and Vibrations in confined gouge - Implications of acoustic vibrations on localization, triggering and slow slip
  • Bone: Some Mechanics and Inspiration
  • Compaction, Dilation, and Strain localization in a model of sheared granular materials with an eye for elastodynamics
  • Crack Propagation in Bone: the Role of Sacrificial Bonds
  • To order or To disorder: Examples from bio-inspired architectured composites
  • Bone: Some Mechanics and Inspiration
  • On some problems in amorphous plasticity of granular media
  • ￿On some bone-Inspired material design ideas: The sacrificial bond mechanism for enhancing toughness and heterogeneity patterning for novel functionality￿.
  • The different signatures of pulse like ruptures propagating on strong velocity weakening frictional interfaces
  • On the Self-healing rupture mode and some investigations on fault zone inelasticity
  • Bone: Some mechanics and Inspiration
  • Non equilibrium thermodynamics of fault gouge: Effect of grain contact processes
  • A multiscale model for shear flow in granular medium with breakable particles
  • A multiscale model for fault zone evolution: From grain fragmentation to secondary faults branching
  • On the physical origin of some constitutive laws in biology and geophysics
  • A physically-based constitutive law for granular materials in shear for multiscale dynamic fracture simulations

Professional Societies

  • American Physics Society
  • Engineering Mechanics Institute -ASCE
  • American Geophysics Union

Service on Department Committees

  • Member of Newmark Lecture Committee
  • Chair of Qualification Exam Committee (2015- now)
  • Member of Graduate Admissions Committee (2014-2015)


  • 2019 Journal of Applied Mechanics Best Paper Award (2019)
  • NSF Faculty Early Career Award (2018)
  • NCSA Fellow (2015-2016)