Mohammed Teymouri is a first year, Iranian born Ph.D. candidate at Colorado State University and is one of three students to receive the 2022-23 Dean’s Fellowship from the College of Health and Human Sciences. Teymouri is in a joint program in the Departments of Construction Management and Civil and Environmental Engineering. The Dean’s Fellowship provides a $20,000 grant for doctoral students to continue and expand their research into their respective fields.
Teymouri works to research the impacts of de-icing and anti-icing salt solutions on concrete infrastructures. His work is focused on researching sustainable alternatives to de-icing, creating a more environmentally friendly concrete system. This project seeks to help increase the reliability and accuracy of service-life estimates of concrete infrastructures.
Through his time at CSU, Teymouri has been mentored by Mahmoud Shakouri, assistant professor in the Department of Construction Management.
To learn more about Teymouri’s story and dedication to research, read the interview below.
Tell us about your undergraduate experience.
I am from Iran. I studied for my bachelor’s degree and master’s degree at two top-ranked universities back home. My major was Civil and Environmental Engineering. In my country, we must take part in a nationwide entrance exam and get a high rank among at least 40,000 participants if we want to study at a prestigious university. Fortunately, I ranked among the top 0.2% for a B.S. degree and the top 0.6% for an M.S. degree and was awarded a tuition waiver for both degrees!
I love challenges and competition, and I am passionate about cement and concrete. In my undergraduate program, I was a member of the concrete team at Tehran Polytechnique University, and we ranked first place in a national lightweight concrete competition among 14 universities. After that teamwork, the idea for my first patent ignited, and my wonderful friends and I registered a patent at the Iranian Organization of Intellectual Property, titled “high-performance concrete using textile sewage.” To make a long story short, my undergraduate experience was full of joy, learning, and achievements, and more importantly, I had a chance to get to know amazing people that I am still in touch with after several years.
Side story about my undergrad: When I was a junior, I started making a student show that we called “Hot Seat.” Each month we selected one person to be asked challenging questions collected from our classmates. I was in charge of organizing, recording, and editing! We had two outstanding hosts. We recorded it and then published it for all! It was one of the most memorable experiences in my life.
What inspired you to continue to grad school and to apply for the Dean’s Fellowship?
After graduation, I worked for a few years in the industry. During my education and profession, I have become so intrigued by advanced concrete technology, pavement materials, and concrete durability. Thus, I decided to continue my higher education in a well-established program in the U.S. I found a research group at CSU that fits my research interest and previous experience and was admitted as a fully funded grad student, which I am grateful for.
I took part in a session in November 2021 for prospective Dean’s Fellows applicants organized by Professor Matthew Hickey and got informative data about it. Then, I talked to my mentors and planned to apply. To be honest, I have worked hard on the application, but I thought that as a first-year doctoral student, I had no chance compared to other Ph.D. students. I am honored that I won the Dean’s Fellowship in the first year of my Ph.D. journey. It helped me financially and mentally, giving me the confidence to make positive impacts in my field of study.
Can you describe your research project and its significance?
I am working on the impacts of de-icing and anti-icing salt solutions on concrete infrastructures. Concrete is the second most consumed material in the world after water. Concrete infrastructures are of great importance to societies. They provide the means to connect cities, transport people and goods, and protect the land against flooding and erosion. The surface of concrete pavements and reinforced concrete bridge decks are commonly treated with chloride-bearing de-icing and anti-icing salts during winter to minimize freezing risk. The frequent application of these salts can result in the ingress of chlorides into the concrete.
For instance, a magnesium chloride brine solution in Fort Collins, Apex Meltdown, is the primary liquid de-icer. When enough chlorides reach the surface of the reinforcing bars, localized corrosion can occur. The corrosion of the reinforcing bars can ultimately reduce the structure’s service life and result in significant repair or rehabilitation costs.
Based on Federal Highway Administration and Department of Transportation reports, the cost of concrete corrosion on bridges and roadways in the United States is substantial. The overarching goal of this project is to evaluate the impacts of currently used de-icing salt solutions in chloride-induced corrosion of concrete pavements. Specifically, we are evaluating the relationship between external chloride concentration and the type of brine solution on concrete containing various cementitious materials. It helps to select a prepared brine solution and concentration that effectively melt the snow and has minimal impacts on concrete properties in the long haul. This project’s outcome would help increase the reliability and accuracy of service-life estimates of concrete infrastructures.
What do you hope will be the long-term impacts of your research?
This project comprises two aspects. First, the technical side. This project aims to fill a knowledge gap that provides essential information for a reliable service-life estimate of concrete infrastructures. The data from this project is expected to provide practical information for the American Concrete Institute 222 committee (Corrosion of Metals in Concrete) and ACI 365 (Service Life Prediction) documents.
Secondly, we have used the three most common brine solutions and evaluated their impacts on the chloride-induced corrosion of concrete pavements. Thus, the results may be of interest to the Colorado Department of Transportation. The experimental test helps to evaluate the impacts of primary brine de-icer in Fort Collins on concrete pavements, providing practical information for the Street Department of Fort Collins. The results of this project can also facilitate the development of national standards and guidelines to consider the impacts of chloride on the long-term performance of concrete infrastructures.
How has your college education helped you get this far in your field?
I am in a unique program at CSU. I am a Ph.D. student in a joint program in the Departments of Construction Management and Civil and Environmental Engineering, one of which is the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering, and the other is the College of Health and Human Sciences. Thus, I have a chance to take courses from two different colleges which helps me to broaden my knowledge and expand my perspective. It provides me with the ability to examine the engineering problems in my field from a different standpoint.
How does your mission align with the mission of the College of Health and Human Sciences?
Concrete is an affordable material in the built environment, supporting sustainable economic, social, and environmental development priorities. This research will advance the priorities of CHHS’s mission by expanding our understanding of the impacts of de-icing and anti-icing salts on concrete structures, smoothing our path towards sustainable development, increasing concrete infrastructure’s service life, leading to the reduction of cost associated with repair and maintenance of concrete elements exposed to de-icing solutions. It also reduces incidences of corrosion of metal components embedded in or nearby concrete elements exposed to harsh environments. One of CHHS’s missions is to provide transformative research that promotes the well-being of people and the environments in which they live. This investigation facilitates the enhancement of the long-term performance of the concrete infrastructure that can reduce the number of construction sites in cities. Frequent road rehabilitation and maintenance projects cause traffic, noise, and several inconveniences for residents. In addition, instead of spending taxpayers’ money on repair and rehabilitation projects, new infrastructures can be developed to promote the positive development of people and communities. Concrete’s impact on carbon dioxide emissions is a topic being widely discussed. More durable concrete infrastructures work longer and require less rehabilitation and replacement. Therefore, this research would help reduce the concrete carbon footprint.
How have your mentors helped to guide you throughout your career so far?
They have provided meaningful contributions to this research project. Ph.D. students are pursuing advanced research in their field, but they are not experts yet! Thus, the role of the mentor becomes crucial in providing guidance and support throughout the Ph.D. journey. I want to give special thanks to my main advisor. I am currently holding a GRA position with Dr. Shakouri. He is a very established researcher in concrete corrosion, concrete durability, and sustainable construction. Dr. Shakouri is a key contributor to the conduct of the study. I want to express my sincere appreciation for all my committee members and mentors who helped me throughout this process.
The Department of Construction Management is a part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.