PI Spotlight: James LaFave, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

James LaFave, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is serving as the principal investigator of two current ICT projects: 

  • R27-70: Calibration & Refinement of Illinois’ Earthquake Resisting System Bridge Design Methodology
  • R27-115: Analysis of Superstructures of Integral Abutment Bridges

LaFave has been on the faculty at the University of Illinois since 1999. Prior to that, he was a faculty member at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He is also a licensed professional engineer and has consulting experience with firms in New Jersey and Illinois.

LaFave’s primary research interest is the experimental behavior and analytical modeling of structural connections and joints, including performance and assessment of reinforced concrete building and bridge structures subjected to earthquakes, seismic and wind performance of light-frame construction with brick veneer, innovative structural faming systems and components, and structural applications of high-performance fiber-reinforced concrete. He notes that his ICT research has given him more breadth as a structural engineer by including much more of an emphasis on bridges. The findings from his two ICT projects are helping to address some very practical problems faced by IDOT engineers in relation to the economical design of bridges that will have adequate long-term performance in possible extreme events.

He is a member of the American Concrete Institute, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, and the Masonry Society. He was chair of Joint ACI-ASCE Committee 352 (Joints and Connections in Monolithic Concrete Structures), and is also past chair of two other ACI committees.  LaFave has twice received the University of Illinois ASCE Student Chapter Outstanding Instructor Award and is a College of Engineering Xerox Award recipient for faculty research. He is a Fellow of ACI who has been presented with the ACI Wason Medal for Most Meritorious Paper, the ASTM Alan H. Yorkdale Memorial Award, and the Outstanding TMS Journal Paper Award.

LaFave holds a Ph.D. in civil (structural) engineering from the University of Michigan with B.S. and M.S. degrees in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.