Current Projects

Active Research Projects

Seismic Vulnerability of Historic Monuments

Overview: Recent earthquakes have highlighted the vulnerability of many historic structures and monuments – the collapse of which can result in permanent loss of cultural heritage. Many historic structures, particularly monuments and statues, can be classified as systems of freestanding structures. It is the primary objective of this project to correlate the probability of failure of freestanding structures (e.g. collapse) to earthquake intensity. This will be accomplished by rigorous numerical modeling and probabilistic assessments.

PI and co-PIs: Christine Wittich (PI) and Ece Erdogmus (co-PI, UNL Durham School)

Sponsor: National Park Service (NPS)

Impact of Contact and Interface Modeling on Precarious Rock Fragilities

Overview: The long-term research goal is to reduce epistemic uncertainty in the probabilistic overturning predictions for precariously balanced rocks. Recent field surveys of precarious rocks have highlighted the potential for complex interface conditions that are not readily captured by traditional surveying techniques. As a result, the overall objective of this project is to quantify and assess the impact of interface geometric variations on the probabilistic overturning predictions of precarious rocks.

PI: Christine Wittich

Sponsor: United States Geologic Survey (USGS) via the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC)

Traffic-Induced Vibration and Phased Construction Bridges

Overview: The primary objective of this research is to determine the amplitude and duration of traffic-induced vibration that results in unacceptable levels of deterioration for phased construction bridge decks. To address this, field monitoring of bridges during construction will measure the typical ranges of traffic-induced vibration, which will serve as the input during laboratory experimentation to quantify the relationship between that vibration and the durability of the bridge deck.

PI and co-PIs: Christine Wittich (PI), Richard Wood (co-PI, UNL CIVE), and George Morcous (co-PI, UNL Durham School)

Sponsor: Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT)

FIRST: Enhancing Resiliency of Rural Infrastructure

: There is a critical need to understand the response of agricultural support systems and rural infrastructure under extreme loads and to evaluate how these systems contribute to the resilience of rural communities. The overall objective of this project is to develop preliminary numerical models for the dynamic repsonse of critical agricultural systems, including steel grain bins.

PI: Christine Wittich

Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF) via Nebraska Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (NE-EPSCoR)

Data Driven Predictions of Bridge Scour
Photo Coming Soon.

Overview: Bridge scour is a leading cause of bridge closures and failures in the country and in Nebraska. Scour conditions require continuous monitoring by individual inspectors at the county and state levels to prioritize bridges for intervention and mitigation. The objective of this project is to develop empirical scour predictions for Nebraska bridges and a data-driven prioritization scheme for intervention and new bridge design.

PI and co-PIs: Richard Wood (PI, UNL CIVE), Christine Wittich (co-PI), Chung Song (co-PI, UNL CIVE), and Junke Guo (co-PI, UNL CIVE)

Sponsor: Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT)

Precariously Balanced Rock Fragility Validation

Overview: Precariously balanced rocks are one of the few ways to place realistic constraints on rare seismic hazard. However, the prediction of precariously balanced rock response is highly uncertain. This project aims to understand the impact of various techniques in field surveying and assumption in numerical modeling on the resulting seismic hazard conclusions.

PI: Christine Wittich

Sponsor: Pacific Gas & Electric (PGE)

Establishment of an Outdoor Laboratory and Testbed for Bridge Health

Overview: This project has one overarching objective to transform two bridge sites into a national research and educational facility for bridge health and testing. This will permit access for nondestructive evaluation and destructive test verifications. Furthermore, it is sought to leverage this facility for future research projects and identify strategic directions for this first-of-its kind facility on realistic aging infrastructure. This involves using decommissioned and under-used steel and concrete bridge structures in Nebraska.

PI and co-PIs: PI - Richard Wood (UNL CIVE); co-PIs - Christine Wittich, Joshua Steelman, Jinying Zhu, Daniel Linzell (UNL CIVE) and Jay Puckett (UNL Durham School)

Sponsor: Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT)

Smart big data pipeline for Aging Rural bridge Transportation Infrastructure (SMARTI)

Overview: This large, multi-institution project focuses on aging rural bridge networks. The research team will combine existing and new datasets to address challenges of relevance to bridge owners using scalable and replicable big data pipeline components. Dr. Wittich's role in this project involves the use of lidar (laser) scanning for monitoring the condition of aging bridges over time, as part of the Sensor Action team. See the project website:

PI and co-PIs: Robin Gandhi (UN-Omaha), Deepak Khazanci (UN-Omaha), Brian Ricks (UN-Omaha), Chungwook Sim (UNL CIVE), Daniel Linzell (UNL CIVE)

Senior Personnel: UNL CIVE: Ron Faller, Laurence Rilett, Chung Song, Christine Wittich, Richard Wood, Jinying Zhu; UNL Electrical Engineering: Hamid Sharif; UNL Biological Systems Engineering: Wayne Woldt; UNL Durham School: Jay Puckett; University of Nebraska-Omaha: Parvathi Chundi, Kate Cooper, Prithviraj Dasgupta, Matthew Germonprez, Sachin Pawaskar, Jon Youn, Christian Haas.

Sponsor: National Science Foundation