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Alan Needleman, PhD

University Distinguished Professor
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Member, National Academy of Engineering, 2000

Dr. Alan Needleman has made a variety of novel and well-recognized contributions to understanding the mechanical behavior of materials, including a role, with Viggo Tvergaard, in developing the most widely used ductile fracture modeling framework (the GTN model). In recent work, Dr. Needleman (with collaborators) used this framework to quantitatively relate a material’s fracture mechanism, crack growth resistance and fracture surface roughness. This provides a relation between: (i) the engineering community that focuses on crack growth resistance; (ii) the materials science community that focuses on physical mechanisms; and (iii) the physics community that focuses on the fractal nature of fracture surfaces. Dr. Needleman also developed a cohesive surface method for fracture analysis that has become a standard engineering tool. Another example is the development, with Erik van der Giessen, of a discrete dislocation plasticity formulation that provides a framework for predicting plasticity size effects in metals at length scales of tens of micrometers and smaller. Dr. Needleman earned his BS degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, and his MS and PhD degrees in engineering from Harvard University. After five years on the applied mathematics faculty at MIT, he spent 34 years as a faculty member in engineering at Brown University, becoming the Florence Pirce Grant University Professor. He then moved to the University of North Texas and joined Texas A&M University in 2015, where he is a University Distinguished Professor and a TEES Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Dr. Needleman is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was in the first class of fellows of the Texas A&M Hagler Institute of Advanced Studies and was awarded the Timoshenko Medal by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.