Franz-Josef Ulm


Franz-Josef Ulm (born March 9, 1964[1] in Fürth/Bavaria,[2] West Germany) is a Structural Engineer, an Engineering Scientist and a Professor since 1999.[5] He is Professor[1][6] of Civil & Environmental Engineering[1][5] at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT),[5][6][7] the Faculty Director[6][7] of the Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub@MIT). He is credited for discovering the nanogranular structure of Calcium-Silicate-Hydrates (C-S-H), the binding phase of concrete, and for the development of concepts of nanoengineering of concrete which combine advanced nanomechanics experiments with molecular simulation results. He speaks up for an environmental sustainable engineering,[8] with “greener”[2][8] concrete with lower CO2 footprint,[1][2][9][10][11] to reduce the carbon footprint of concrete; to enhance concrete's resilience; and reduce its impact on global warming.

Franz-Josef Ulm
Born (1964-03-09) March 9, 1964 (age 58)[1]
Alma mater
Occupationprofessor, engineer, scientist
EmployerMassachusetts Institute of Technology

Early careerEdit

Ulm grew up in Fürth/Bavaria and Erlangen as son of Udo Ulm and Hertha Ulm, both Structural Engineers. Following National Service as a nurse in a surgical hospital in Erlangen, he studied Civil Engineering at the Technical University of Munich,[5][6][7] where he graduated in 1990[5][6][7] with a “Diplom Ingenieur (Bauingenieur)”(Eq. MSc) degree. Prior to concluding his studies in Munich, he was sent to the Ecole National des Ponts et Chaussee[5][6][7] as an exchange student, and completed his Diplomarbeit (Master's Thesis) at the Laboratoire central des ponts et chaussées [fr] (LCPC) in Paris (now IFSTTAR), the Central French Civil Engineering Laboratory. He continued his studies at Ecole National des Ponts et Chaussees, as a research assistance at LCPC, receiving a Docteur-Ingenieur[5][6][7] degree (eq. Ph.D.) from ENPC[5][6][7] in January 1994,[5][6][7] with a specialization in Materials and Structures. During this time, he worked closely with Olivier Coussy on the English translation of Coussy's book “Mechanics of Porous Continua”.[12] The collaboration of Ulm with Coussy led to the development of the Continuum Chemomechanics theory[13] which has been applied by Ulm and co-workers to Early–Age Concrete and risk evalDiuation of concrete cracking relevant for massive concrete structures in innovative bridge and tunneling applications;[14] to prediction of premature deterioration of concrete structures due to the Alkali-Silica Reactions;[15] and the deleterious effects of calcium leaching of concrete relevant for nuclear waste storage applications.[16] In 1996, he became Chargé de Recherche (Research Scientist) of the French Ministry of Public Works. During his tenure at LCPC, he was head of the Research group of concrete and concrete composite behavior and modeling. In 1998,[5][6][7] he obtained the habilitation degree from the Ecole Normal Superieur de Cachan[5][6][7] with a habilitation thesis on chemomechanics of concrete materials and structures.[17]

Academic careerEdit

Ulm joined MIT in January 1999, where he specialized in experimental nano- and micromechanics of cement-based materials, shales and bones.[18][19] With his research group, he developed statistical nanoindentation techniques for hydrated nanocomposites; an indentation technique that permits via statistical analysis to link chemistry and mechanical behavior at 10s of nanometer length scales.[20] In 2007, his group discovered that cementitious materials at nanoscale exhibit a nanogranular behavior driven by particle-to-particle contact forces.[21] This nanogranular origin was found to drive much of the strength and durability performance of cementitious materials, such as the long-term creep behavior[22] and fire resistance.[23] A similar nanogranular nature was found for shales[24] and bones.[25] In 2008, he joined forces with a group of physicists and computational material scientists to combine experimental nanoindentation investigations with molecular and meso-scale simulations of cement hydrates.[26][27] Specifically, the collaboration with Roland Pellenq, a CNRS Research Director and Senior Research Scientist at MIT, allowed identification of the molecular structure of calcium-silicate hydrates, the binding phase of concrete which lends its strength and durability to concrete at engineering scales. By incorporating concepts of glass physics[28] and soft matter physics[29] into cement science, Ulm and co-workers showed by means of a molecular combinatorial approach that concrete's fundamental strength could be elevated without changing the chemistry of its constituents, i.e. Calcium, Silica and Water.[30] The handshake of molecular simulation techniques with experimental nanoscale experiments opened a novel way to address the concrete sustainability challenge to reduce the environmental impact while sustaining its role as the backbone material for housing, shelter and infrastructure worldwide.[31] The challenge led, in 2009, to the foundation of the Concrete Sustainability Hub at MIT (CSHub@MIT). This novel industry–academia partnership between the Portland Cement Association (Skokie, Illinois), the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (Silver Spring, Maryland) and MIT aims at reducing the environmental footprint of concrete, while enhancing its resilience from materials to structures and urban community scale.[32][33]


  • 2002 Robert L’Hermite Medaille, RILEM[34]
  • 2005 Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize[3][5]
  • 2010 Maurice A. Biot lecture at Columbia University[35][36]
  • 2011 Stephen Brunauer Award, American Ceramic Society[37]
  • 2012 Theodore von Karman Medal, American Society of Civil Engineers[4]
  • 2013 Best paper award 2012: Acta Geotechnica[38]
  • 2013 Engineering Mechanics Institute Fellow[39]
  • 2013 Engineering News Record Award of Excellence[40]
  • 2014 Elected Member of European Academy of Sciences and Arts[41]
  • 2022 Elected Member of National Academy of Engineering[42]


  1. ^ a b c d e Foundation, Falling Walls. "Franz-Josef Ulm | Falling Walls". Retrieved 2018-12-25.
  2. ^ a b c d "Ulm_transcript.pdf" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-12-25.
  3. ^ a b "Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prizes | ASCE | Past Award Winners". Archived from the original on 2018-11-12. Retrieved 2018-12-27.
  4. ^ a b mituser (2012-04-10). "Franz Ulm to receive ASCE's von Karman Medal". MIT CEE. Retrieved 2018-12-26.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Franz-Josef Ulm, Ph.D., P.E., F.EMI, M.ASCE | ASCE". Retrieved 2018-12-25.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k mituser. "Franz-Josef Ulm". MIT CEE. Retrieved 2018-12-25.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Franz-Josef Ulm, Faculty Director | Concrete Sustainability Hub". Retrieved 2018-12-25.
  8. ^ a b "Franz-Josef Ulm: Paving the Way for Greener Concrete". Retrieved 2018-12-25.
  9. ^ mituser (2013-04-02). "Ulm and Concrete Sustainability Hub named to engineering list of top newsmakers". MIT CEE. Retrieved 2018-12-25.
  10. ^ "Designing Sustainable Concrete Pavements using the Pavement-ME Mechanistic Empirical Pavement Design and Life Cycle Analysis". Retrieved 2018-12-25.
  11. ^ Ulm, Franz-Josef (2012). "Innovationspotenzial Beton: Von Atomen zur Grünen Infrastruktur". Beton- und Stahlbetonbau (in German). 107 (8): 504–509. doi:10.1002/best.201200020. ISSN 1437-1006. S2CID 110152715.
  12. ^ Coussy, Olivier (1995). Mechanics of Porous Continua. Chichester, UK: J. Wiley & Sons.
  13. ^ Coussy, Oliver; Ulm, Franz-Josef (1996). "Creep and plasticity due to chemo-mechanical couplings". Archive of Applied Mechanics. 66 (8): 523. Bibcode:1996AAM....66..523C. doi:10.1007/s004190050088. ISSN 0939-1533.
  14. ^
    • Ulm, Franz-Josef; Coussy, Olivier (1998-11-01). "Couplings in early-age concrete: From material modeling to structural design". International Journal of Solids and Structures. 35 (31–32): 4295–4311. doi:10.1016/s0020-7683(97)00317-x. ISSN 0020-7683.
    • Hellmich, Christian; Mang, Herbert A.; Ulm, Franz-Josef (2001-09-01). "Hybrid method for quantification of stress states in shotcrete tunnel shells: combination of 3D in situ displacement measurements and thermochemoplastic material law". Computers & Structures. 79 (22–25): 2103–2115. doi:10.1016/s0045-7949(01)00057-8. ISSN 0045-7949.
    • Ulm, Franz-Josef; Coussy, Olivier (2001-05-01). "What Is a "Massive" Concrete Structure at Early Ages? Some Dimensional Arguments". Journal of Engineering Mechanics. 127 (5): 512–522. doi:10.1061/(asce)0733-9399(2001)127:5(512). ISSN 0733-9399.
    • Ulm, Franz-Josef; Coussy, Olivier; Bažant, Zdeněk P. (1999-03-01). "The "Chunnel" Fire. I: Chemoplastic Softening in Rapidly Heated Concrete". Journal of Engineering Mechanics. 125 (3): 272–282. doi:10.1061/(asce)0733-9399(1999)125:3(272). ISSN 0733-9399.
  15. ^ Ulm, Franz-Josef; Coussy, Olivier; Kefei, Li; Larive, Catherine (2000-03-01). "Thermo-Chemo-Mechanics of ASR Expansion in Concrete Structures". Journal of Engineering Mechanics. 126 (3): 233–242. doi:10.1061/(asce)0733-9399(2000)126:3(233). ISSN 0733-9399.
  16. ^ Ulm, Franz-Josef; Torrenti, Jean-Michel; Adenot, Frédéric (1999-10-01). "Chemoporoplasticity of Calcium Leaching in Concrete". Journal of Engineering Mechanics. 125 (10): 1200–1211. doi:10.1061/(asce)0733-9399(1999)125:10(1200). ISSN 0733-9399.
  17. ^ Ulm, Franz-Josef (1999). "Couplages thermochémomécaniques dans les bétons (un premier bilan)". Études et Recherches des Laboratoires des Ponts et Chaussées. Série Ouvrages d'Art.
  18. ^ Constantinides, Georgios; Ulm, Franz-Josef (2004-01-01). "The effect of two types of C-S-H on the elasticity of cement-based materials: Results from nanoindentation and micromechanical modeling". Cement and Concrete Research. 34 (1): 67–80. doi:10.1016/s0008-8846(03)00230-8. ISSN 0008-8846.
  19. ^ Akono, Ange Therese; Reis, Pedro Miguel; Ulm, Franz-Josef (2011-05-20). "Scratching as a Fracture Process: From Butter to Steel" (PDF). Physical Review Letters. 106 (20): 204302. Bibcode:2011PhRvL.106t4302A. doi:10.1103/physrevlett.106.204302. hdl:1721.1/65375. ISSN 0031-9007. PMID 21668232.
  20. ^ Ulm, Franz-Josef; Vandamme, Matthieu; Bobko, Chris; Alberto Ortega, Jose; Tai, Kuangshin; Ortiz, Christine (2007-09-01). "Statistical Indentation Techniques for Hydrated Nanocomposites: Concrete, Bone, and Shale". Journal of the American Ceramic Society. 90 (9): 2677–2692. CiteSeerX doi:10.1111/j.1551-2916.2007.02012.x. ISSN 0002-7820.
  21. ^ Constantinides, Georgios; Ulm, Franz-Josef (2007-01-01). "The nanogranular nature of C–S–H". Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids. 55 (1): 64–90. Bibcode:2007JMPSo..55...64C. doi:10.1016/j.jmps.2006.06.003. ISSN 0022-5096.
  22. ^ Vandamme, Matthieu; Ulm, Franz-Josef (2009-06-17). "Nanogranular origin of concrete creep". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 106 (26): 10552–10557. Bibcode:2009PNAS..10610552V. doi:10.1073/pnas.0901033106. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 2705587. PMID 19541652.
  23. ^ DeJong, Matthew J.; Ulm, Franz-Josef (2007-01-01). "The nanogranular behavior of C-S-H at elevated temperatures (up to 700 °C)". Cement and Concrete Research. 37 (1): 1–12. doi:10.1016/j.cemconres.2006.09.006. ISSN 0008-8846.
  24. ^ Ulm, Franz-Josef; Abousleiman, Younane (2006-06-15). "The nanogranular nature of shale". Acta Geotechnica. 1 (2): 77–88. doi:10.1007/s11440-006-0009-5. ISSN 1861-1125. S2CID 128482605.
  25. ^ Tai, Kuangshin; Ulm, Franz-Josef; Ortiz, Christine (2006-11-01). "Nanogranular Origins of the Strength of Bone". Nano Letters. 6 (11): 2520–2525. Bibcode:2006NanoL...6.2520T. doi:10.1021/nl061877k. ISSN 1530-6984. PMID 17090084.
  26. ^ Pellenq, Roland J.-M.; Kushima, Akihiro; Shahsavari, Rouzbeh; Van Vliet, Krystyn J.; Buehler, Markus J.; Yip, Sidney; Ulm, Franz-Josef (2009-09-08). "A realistic molecular model of cement hydrates". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 106 (38): 16102–16107. Bibcode:2009PNAS..10616102P. doi:10.1073/pnas.0902180106. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 2739865. PMID 19805265.
  27. ^ Ioannidou, Katerina; Krakowiak, Konrad J.; Bauchy, Mathieu; Hoover, Christian G.; Masoero, Enrico; Yip, Sidney; Ulm, Franz-Josef; Levitz, Pierre; Pellenq, Roland J.-M. (2016-02-08). "Mesoscale texture of cement hydrates". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 113 (8): 2029–2034. Bibcode:2016PNAS..113.2029I. doi:10.1073/pnas.1520487113. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 4776460. PMID 26858450.
  28. ^ Bauchy, Mathieu; Abdolhosseini Qomi, Mohammad Javad; Ulm, Franz-Josef; Pellenq, Roland J.-M. (2014-06-07). "Order and disorder in calcium–silicate–hydrate". The Journal of Chemical Physics. 140 (21): 214503. Bibcode:2014JChPh.140u4503B. doi:10.1063/1.4878656. hdl:1721.1/110659. ISSN 0021-9606. PMID 24908022.
  29. ^ Masoero, Enrico; Del Gado, Emanuela; Pellenq, Roland J.-M.; Yip, Sidney; Ulm, Franz-Josef (2014). "Nano-scale mechanics of colloidal C–S–H gels". Soft Matter. 10 (3): 491–499. Bibcode:2014SMat...10..491M. doi:10.1039/c3sm51815a. ISSN 1744-683X. PMID 24651715.
  30. ^ Abdolhosseini Qomi, Mohammad Javad; Krakowiak, Konrad J.; Bauchy, Mathieu; Stewart, Krystle L.; Shahsavari, Rouzbeh; Jagannathan, D.; Brommer, D.B.; Baronnet, A.; Buehler, Markus J. (2014-09-24). "Combinatorial molecular optimization of cement hydrates". Nature Communications. 5 (1): 4960. Bibcode:2014NatCo...5E4960A. doi:10.1038/ncomms5960. ISSN 2041-1723. PMC 4200522. PMID 25248305.
  31. ^ Van Vliet, Krystyn; Pellenq, Roland; Buehler, Markus J.; Grossman, Jeffrey C.; Jennings, Hamlin; Ulm, Franz-Josef; Yip, Sidney (2012-04-09). "Set in stone? A perspective on the concrete sustainability challenge". MRS Bulletin. 37 (4): 395–402. doi:10.1557/mrs.2012.55. ISSN 0883-7694.
  32. ^ Abdolhosseini Qomi, Mohammad Javad; Noshadravan, Arash; Sobstyl, Jake M.; Toole, Jameson; Ferreira, Joseph; Pellenq, Roland J.-M.; Ulm, Franz-Josef; Gonzalez, Marta C. (2016-04-01). "Data analytics for simplifying thermal efficiency planning in cities". Journal of the Royal Society Interface. 13 (117): 20150971. doi:10.1098/rsif.2015.0971. ISSN 1742-5689. PMC 4874424. PMID 27097652.
  33. ^ Sobstyl, Jacob M.; Emig, T.; Abdolhosseini Qomi, Mohammad Javad; Ulm, Fanz-Josef; Pellenq, Roland J.-M. (2018-03-09). "Role of City Texture in Urban Heat Islands at Nighttime". Physical Review Letters. 120 (10): 108701. arXiv:1705.00504. Bibcode:2018PhRvL.120j8701S. doi:10.1103/physrevlett.120.108701. hdl:1721.1/114808. ISSN 0031-9007. PMID 29570321. S2CID 118987192.
  34. ^ RILEM. "RILEM". (in French). Retrieved 2018-12-26.
  35. ^ mituser (2010-10-12). "Ulm gives Biot Lecture at Columbia University". MIT CEE. Retrieved 2018-12-26.
  36. ^ "Biot Lecture". Retrieved 2018-12-26.
  37. ^ mituser (2011-07-12). "Paper by CEE researchers wins Stephen Brunauer Award". MIT CEE. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  38. ^ mituser (2013-03-13). "Paper by grad student Amer Deirieh and Professor Franz-Josef Ulm wins Best Paper Prize from Acta Geotechnica". MIT CEE. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  39. ^ "EMI Fellows | ASCE". Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  40. ^ Malangone, Kathy. "ENR to Honor Construction Industry's Top 25 Newsmakers at Award of Excellence Gala". Retrieved 2018-12-26.
  41. ^ mituser (2014-09-12). "Ulm Elected to European Academy". MIT CEE. Retrieved 2018-12-26.
  42. ^ "National Academy of Engineering Elects 111 Members and 22 International Members".