Principal Investigator

Ange-Therese, Akono, PhD

Associate Professor
Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering
College of Engineering
North Carolina State University


2013   PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
2011   MSc, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
2011  Diplome d’Ingenieur, Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France
2009 MSc,  Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France
2008 BSc, Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France

Honors and Awards

2021             Stories from the NNI podcast, National Nanotechnology Initiative
2021             Leonardo da Vinci Award, ASCE EMI
2021             Invited Symposium Participant, The Royal Society, UK
2020             NIH Diversity Grant
2019             Invited Symposium Participant, The Royal Society, UK
2019             International Exchange Scheme Award, The Royal Society, UK
2019             Searle Faculty Fellow, Northwestern University
2017             IGEN Keynote speaker, Northwestern University
2017             Education Teaching Technology Fellow, Northwestern University
2016            National Center for Supercomputing Applications Faculty Fellowship
2016            ASCE New Faces of Civil Engineering Professionals Award
2014-2015  Collins Scholar, Academy for Excellence in Engineering Education, UIUC
2009-2011  MIT Energy Initiative Fellowship

Press Coverage
Urbana High School Outreach | Intrinsic High School Outreach
Geopolymer research | Geopolymer MD simulations | NCSA Fellowship| ASCE New Faces Award
Scratch Test model | NIH Diversity Grant | ASCE Leonardo da Vinci Award| Nano-reinforced Cement

Dr. Akono’s laboratory investigates fracture and failure mechanisms in complex materials systems from the molecular level up to the macroscopic scale. This research is articulated over three main thrusts: sustainable construction materials, sustainable energy systems, and bone tissue regeneration engineering. Dr. Akono’s areas of expertise include nano-mechanics, fracture analysis, and nanomaterials.

Current Graduate Students

Haklae Lee, M.Sc.


2019     MSc, Pusan National University, Busan, South Korea
2017     BSc, Pusan National University, Busan, South Korea


2020    Student Presentation Contest 2nd place, The 1st Midwest Workshop on Multiscale Surface Characterization
2020    Walter P. Murphy Fellowship, Northwestern University
2020    Doctoral Study Abroad Scholarship, Pusan National University Alumni Association of Faculty
2020    Best Paper Award, 2020 Pusan National University Graduate School Academic Awards
2018    Outstanding Paper Award, The 20th Cross Straits Symposium on Materials, Energy and Environmental Sciences
2017    Silver Prize, The 5th Busan Global Water Forum
2017    BK21 Plus Graduate Research Scholarship, Pusan National University

Haklae‘s research interests include biofilm mechanics, nanoreinforced geopolymer materials, and advanced microscopy techniques.

Nathanial Buettner, M.Sc., EIT


2021   MSc, University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA
2019   BSc, University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA


2021          Walter P. Murphy Fellowship, Northwestern University
2019          National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship
2019           American Concrete Institute Pittsburgh Chapter Founders Award
2018          Mindlin Foundation Undergraduate Mentored Research Award

Nathanial’s research interests include recycled aggregate concrete, nano-reinforced cement-based materials, and the mineralization of piezoelectric scaffolds.


Yunzhi Xu, M. E.


2018   ME, University of Michigan, MI, USA
2015   BSc, Tsinghua University, China


2021   PS&ED Cluster Fellowship
2021   USNC/TAM Early Career Attendee Fellowship
2021   NAMRC 49/MSEC 2021 NSF Student Support, National Science Foundation
2019  Walter P. Murphy Fellowship, Northwestern University

Yunzhi’s research interests include additive manufacturing, topology optimization, origami engineering, composite materials, and fracture mechanics.

Current Undergraduate Students

Raymonde Council, Class of 2024


2021    DAAD RISE Germany Internship
2019    Melville  and Jane Hodge EXCEL Scholar
2019    NCSSM Golden Cupola

Raymonde’s research interests include tissue regenerative engineering, biomaterials design, and additive manufacturing processes.

Mairi Glynn, Class of 2024


2018    Illinois State Scholar
2017    Young Playwrights Festival Winner

Mairi’s research interests include design and additive manufacturing to develop sustainable solutions to systemic problems in the developing world.”.


Jiaxin Chen, PhD 2021, Senior Research Scientist, Apple
Pooyan Kabir, PhD 2018,Finite Element Analyst, McDermott International Inc.
Radhika Pavgi, MSc 2017,
Orieka Okeoghene, MSc 2016, Structural Engineer,Dudley Dunham Engineering
Caroline Johnson, MSc 2017, Structural Engineer, Strand Associates
Kevin Anderson, MSc 2016, Engineer, STV
Gregory Bouche, MSc 2015, Reliability Engineer, CITGO Petroleum
Hebert Elyse, Summer 2018 Research Intern,
Jasmine Puthuvelil, Spring 2016-Spring 2017 Research Intern, Structural Engineer, MCveigh & Mangum Engineering
Anleen Cao, Summer 2017 Research Intern,
James C Myers, Summer 2014 Research Intern,
Matthew Figus, Spring 2017 Research Intern, Structural Engineer, Walker Restoration Consultants
Luis W Chavez, Summer 2016 Research Intern, PhD Candidate, UIUC
Kathleen Hawkins, Summer 2014 Research Intern, PhD Candidate, UIUC
Wenjing Li, Summer 2014 Research Intern,
Ye Liu, Summer 2014 Research Intern,