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2015 News Releases



Ruben Juanes named director of Pierce Laboratory

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PHOTO: Ruben JuanesAssociate Professor Ruben Juanes of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) is the new director of Pierce Laboratory, effective Sept. 1. The Pierce Lab pushes the frontiers of infrastructure science and engineering by addressing the fundamental issues critical to society and the environment, and by serving as a center of excellence in infrastructure design, manufacturing, and operation.


“I am truly excited that Ruben has agreed to serve in this important role,” said Markus Buehler, CEE department head. “I am looking forward to working with him and others to continue Pierce Lab’s path of excellence and innovation.” 

Juanes’s work will benefit Pierce Lab’s focus on using innovative science and engineering approaches to advance the design of infrastructure materials, transportation systems, cities, and energy resources. Arriving at MIT in 2006, he studies the physics of multiphase flow in porous media, with application to a variety of energy-driven geophysical problems such as carbon sequestration, methane hydrates, and petroleum recovery. A recent article describes his research on why puddles stop spreading and its application to industry.    


Juanes has won numerous awards for his excellence in research and teaching, including the CEE Maseeh Award (for best faculty instructor of the year), the Department of Energy Award for Outstanding Contributions in Geoscience, and the Department of Energy Early Career Award. He teaches undergraduates and graduate students in computer programming and computational methods for flow in porous media. 


“I feel honored to have the opportunity to work with faculty, students and staff in Pierce Lab more directly,” Juanes said. “MIT is a place that exudes excellence, and this is a fabulous chance to contribute to promoting that excellence.”

Civil and environmental engineering is undergoing a profound transformation as a profession at large, Jaunes said, but also as an engineering discipline at MIT.


He noted that the greatest opportunities are always determined by the people with whom you work, citing Pierce Lab’s renowned senior faculty and its young, recently-hired faculty. He added that his appointment is a wonderful opportunity for added synergy in Pierce among all the different groups and levels: research, educational programs, and the social fabric.


“I truly look forward to working with the cadre of young faculty who recently joined the department,” Juanes said. “I want to capitalize on this generation of academics and on their immense talent, creativity, enthusiasm, and collegiality. I also look to the students and postdocs to serve as leaders in establishing a greater sense of community. In the process, I hope to increase our impact and help raise the visibility of CEE within and outside of MIT.”


Juanes succeeds Professor Daniele Veneziano as inaugural director of Pierce Lab. Buehler remarked that he was deeply grateful to Veneziano for his contributions these past few years. “Daniele’s dedicated and caring leadership paved the way for the evolution of our undergraduate and graduate programs, space renovations, and faculty hiring,” Buehler noted, “and now we can all build upon this solid foundation that he created.” 


Big engineering is small-scale change with big-scale impact. This vision of CEE is supported by two vibrant centers of gravity: the Ralph M. Parsons Laboratory and Henry L. Pierce Laboratory. The Parsons Laboratory, housed in Building 48, focuses on what exists as natural systems, and understanding and engineering human adaptation to a changing environment. The Pierce Laboratory, housed in Building 1, advances science and engineering research critical to improving living conditions for humankind, advancing the innovation of materials, transportation systems, cities, and energy resources. The Pierce Laboratory serves as the home for these activities in research and education, and its members and affiliates play a leadership role in many cross-cutting initiatives and programs.