Leeds student wins 2023 Adam Neville Prize for best national PhD in cement and concrete

The University of Leeds and The Concrete Society have awarded The Adam Neville Prize for the best national PhD in the field of cement and concrete.

Zengliang Yue, a PhD student from the University of Leeds, won this year’s prize for his talk entitled “A novel Multiphysics modelling framework to reduce the uncertainty of the carbonation resistance and capture potential of concrete materials”. The announcement was made by Professor Adam Neville’s daughter, Dame Elizabeth Neville.

Led by the University of Leeds’ Neville Centre of Excellence in Cement and Concrete Engineering, in conjunction with The Concrete Society, the PhD award has been presented annually since 2018. It comes with a £2,000 cash prize donated by the Neville family, honouring the late Professor Adam Neville, former President of The Concrete Society (1974-1975) and the University of Leeds’ Head of the Department of Civil Engineering (1968-1978).

Four shortlisted PhD candidates from universities across the UK were invited to present their work. Candidates were judged on:

  1. Originality of the work;
  2. Scientific and technical rigour; and
  3. Practical applications in cement and concrete industries.

As in previous years, the competition presentations were delivered in parallel with the annual Neville Centre of Excellence in Cement and Concrete Engineering Symposium. This year, the theme for the Symposium was Sustainability and AI. The three invited speakers were:

  • Helen Frape, Verifi Business Development Manager UK and Ireland Saint-Gobain Construction Chemicals, “Improving Concrete Durability and Sustainability with AI: Role of Machine Learning in process optimization and carbon footprint reduction”;
  • Nishant Gard, Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, “Addressing Concrete Durability and Sustainability with AI: Role of Computer Vision and Machine Learning”; and
  • Onur Avci, Assistant Professor – Wadsworth Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, West Virginia University, “Zero-Shot Transfer Learning in Vibration Based Structural Damage Detection”.

Around 90 people from Malaysia, India, Europe, South Africa, Canada, Ireland, the US, and the UK took part in a packed on-line programme of seminars and online discussion. The dual event further successfully reinforced the aim of the Neville Centre, led by Professor John Forth, which is to become the first point of contact for both industry and academia to drive innovation and research-led education in cement and concrete.

We would like to extend our gratitude to the Neville family for their continuing support for the Adam Neville PhD Prize, which we know has had a hugely positive impact for the first two recipients.

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