PI Spotlight: Marshall Thompson

Marshall Thompson is professor emeritus at the University of Illinois, with more than 50 years of experience in the field of asphalt pavement. He received his PhD from Illinois in 1964 and retired in 1996 after an illustrious career, but he has remained active as a consultant and researcher.

Thompson is one the leading experts in pavement, soil, and materials. He has won numerous awards and accolades; published more than 200 technical journal papers, bulletins, and research reports; and was elected to the National Asphalt Paving Association’s Hot-Mix Asphalt Hall of Fame in 2005.

In addition, Thompson was the Illinois Asphalt Paving Association’s Man of the Year in 1995, received the Ronald D. Kenyon Research and Education Award from NAPA (National Asphalt Paving Association) in 1997, and received the Distinguished Research Award in 1998 from AFTRE (Aggregates Foundation for Technology, Research, and Education–National Stone Association/National Aggregates Association).

In 2000, he received the Transportation Research Board’s prestigious K.B. Woods Award for outstanding technical paper (“Hot-Mix Asphalt Overlay Design for Rubblized PCC Pavements”) in the field of design and construction of transportation facilities. He was the lead author of the Best Paper Award (“Concepts for Developing a Mechanistic-Empirical–Based ACN Procedure for New Generation Aircraft”) presented at the 2006 International Society for Asphalt Pavement Conference. In 2012, Thompson received the Asphalt Institute’s Distinguished Service Award.

Thompson’s major fields of interest are flexible pavement analysis, design, and construction; paving materials; subgrade soils and subgrade stability; soil/material stabilization; and concrete pavement rehabilitation. His work has influenced many up-and-coming engineers at the University of Illinois and beyond.

He is active in several professional societies and groups, including the Transportation Research Board (emeritus member of Committee AFD80—Strength and Deformation Characteristics of Pavement Sections and Committee AFS80—Cementitious Stabilization, and a past member of Committee AFD60—Flexible Pavement Design). He is also a founding member of the International Society for Asphalt Pavements.

For ICT and IDOT, Marshall has been key in developing the Mechanistic-Empirical Design Guide (MEPDG) and related software, which a system for combining lab results and real-world measurements for optimizing pavement design. His two current projects are Mechanistic-Empirical (M-E) Design Implementation and Monitoring for Flexible Pavements (R27-149-1), in which he continues his groundbreaking work on M-E design, and Pavement Rehabilitation Strategy Course Development (R27-170), in which he working with ICT director Imad Al-Qadi and civil engineering professor Jeffery Roesler to design training materials about pavement rehabilitation and preservation strategies for IDOT.

Because of Thompson’s expertise and reputation, ICT and IDOT continue to benefit from his work as a principal investigator.