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Abedi Receives DEPSCoR Award

photo of Reza Abedi with arms crossed in atrium of Zeanah building

MABE Associate Professor Reza Abedi received a Defense Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCoR) Award from the US Department of Defense (DoD) to pursue research that supports their National Defense Strategy. A total of twenty-one university-led collaborative teams received the award, which includes $600,000 in funding over a three-year period.

“I’m honored to receive this award and for the opportunity to support the DoD,” said Abedi. “This award not only gives me the opportunity to work on a DoD project for the first time, but it also allows me to show my research expertise and may open up other research opportunities for me, in particular with the DoD.”

DEPSCoR encourages the collaborative teams to consist of one researcher who has never served as a principal investigator on a prior DoD-funded award and one investigator who has served as principal investigator on a DoD-funded award and will provide mentorship to the researcher.

Stephanie TerMaath and Robert Fleishel

Associate Professor and Jessie Rogers Zeanah Faculty Fellow Stephanie TerMaath and doctoral student Robert Fleishel

Abedi has teamed up with Associate Professor and Jessie Rogers Zeanah Faculty Fellow Stephanie TerMaath, who has twelve years of DoD experience in industry and ten years of DoD academic research experience, to serve as collaborator and mentor. Abedi’s team also includes TerMaath’s doctoral student, Robert Fleishel, who is majoring in mechanical engineering with a focus on fracture mechanics and has industry experience in fracture testing. There are plans to add a second doctoral student later.

“I am thrilled to work with Dr. Abedi to build a highly competitive DoD research collaboration between our groups and to generate advanced solid mechanics models and methodology in the field of fracture mechanics,” said TerMaath. “Our areas of expertise are very complimentary, and I am honored to collaborate with such an outstanding colleague.”

Abedi is also thrilled to be working with TerMaath.

“I’m lucky to have Dr. TerMaath on my team,” said Abedi. “She has a wealth of knowledge and experience with the DoD that will be very beneficial to the research and my professional development.”

Abedi’s research will be addressing the challenge of predicting material degradation and structural damage tolerance under fatigue loading of ductile metals commonly used in Army vehicles, weapons, and structures.

“Fatigue phenomena is relevant to many applications of interest to the Army,” explained Abedi. “Fatigue life, particularly the crack nucleation stage, exhibit high statistical variations. The goal of this project is to use statistical homogenization and multiscale methods to systematically propagate randomness from microscale (microstructural randomness) to macroscopic quantities of interest (fatigue life).”

Abedi is excited to delve into the new research direction of ductile fatigue modeling and hopes this project will build a strong foundation for future DoD research at UT while preparing future DoD workforce through student education and research participation.

DEPSCoR was created by Congress in 1991 to strengthen the basic research infrastructure at institutions of higher education in under-utilized states and territories and to increase their number of university researchers who perform competitive basic research in science and engineering relevant to the DoD mission and reflect national security priorities. The program is managed by the Directorate of Defense Research and Engineering for Research and Technology within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

A full list of the 2021 DEPSCoR research collaboration award winners can be found at