American Society of Civil Engineers honors MSU’s Vahedifard for groundbreaking research paper

Contact: Allison Matthews

Portrait of Farshid Vahedifard
Farshid Vahedifard (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A Mississippi State Bagley College of Engineering faculty member is the 2022 recipient of one of the oldest and most respected awards of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Farshid Vahedifard, a professor within MSU’s Richard A. Rula School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is receiving the ASCE’s Norman Medal for his technical paper, “Levee Fragility Behavior under Projected Future Flooding in a Warming Climate.”

Established in 1872, the prestigious Norman Medal is the highest honor granted by the ASCE for a technical paper that makes a significant contribution to practical or research aspects of the engineering discipline.

Published in the December 2020 issue of “Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering,” Vahedifard’s paper details the performance of levees during flooding and how climate change is predicted to impact the probability of levee failures. The article was nominated by the ASCE Geo-Institute, Technical Committee for Embankments, Dams and Slopes, that predicted the research presented in the paper “can be broadly applied to the nation’s portfolio of levees to quantify the impacts of climate change on the integrity and reliability of levees. Further, the proposed framework can be adopted as a basis for performing risk analysis of other geotechnical structures under changes in climatic extreme events.”

They further noted, “The authors demonstrated how a multidisciplinary approach integrating geotechnical engineering, hydrology, and climate science can be employed to quantify site-specific impacts of climate change on geotechnical infrastructure.”

Portrait of Firas Jasim
Firas Jasim (Photo submitted)
Portrait of Masood Abdollahi
Masood Abdollahi (Photo by Grace Cockrell)

Vahedifard, who holds the CEE Advisory Board Endowed Professorship at MSU, is the lead author with co-authors including Firas Jasim, a 2019 Ph.D. graduate of MSU, and Masood Abdollahi, a current MSU doctoral student, along with Professor Amir AghaKouchak and graduate student Aneseh Alborzi of the University of California Irvine, and Fred Tracy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“The evolving hazard of flooding is a major risk to the nation’s economy, safety and well-being. Levees are the main pillar of the nation’s flood protection system. We presented a systematic approach for translating large-scale climate information down to local scale engineering applications, an aspect that has been indemnified as a critical gap in the state of the art and practice by the Fourth National Climate Assessment Model. This presented framework allows engineers and other stakeholders to perform levee risk analysis while accounting for possible effects of climate change,” Vahedifard noted.

The research team will be recognized during ASCE’s Annual Convention October 23-26 in Anaheim, California, where Vahedifard will receive the Norman Medal and co-authors will receive certificates.

For more about MSU’s Rula School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, visit

For more about the American Society of Civil Engineers, visit

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