Rodney J. Clifton

2013 Monie A. Ferst Award clifton

Rush C. Hawkins University Professor Emeritus and Professor of Engineering
Brown University

Professor Clifton received his Ph.D. degree in civil engineering from Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1964. He joined the faculty at Brown University in 1964 as an Interdisciplinary Fellow in the Division of Engineering, rising through the ranks to Professor in 1971 and was named the Rush C. Hawkins University Professor in 1988. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1989 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Mechanics and the American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME). 

Professor Clifton has made seminal contributions in research on dynamic plasticity, dynamic fracture, and experimental mechanics of materials. Among his many pioneering contributions is the conception and development of the pressure-shear plate impact technique which, for the first time, enabled the investigation of material flow properties at ultrahigh strain rates (in excess of 106 s-1). He was responsible for the creation of the modern theory of adiabatic shear banding, a common failure mechanism for ductile solids such as structural metals and polymers through the formation of narrow regions of highly localized deformation and intense heating. For his pioneering contributions in the development of the pressure-shear impact experiment and the combined normal velocity-transverse displacement interferometer (NVI/TDI) technique, he received the Melville Medal in 1981 (with K.S. Kim, his former PhD student and now Professor at Brown University) from the ASME. For his seminal contributions in the understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of dynamic plasticity and dynamic fracture, he also received a number of other awards including the Prager Medal in 1986 from the Society of Engineering Science (SES), the Murry Medal in 1997 from the Society of Experimental Mechanics (SEM) and the Timoshenko Medal in 2001 from the ASME. He served as Dean of Engineering at Brown University between 1998 and 2003. 

As an outstanding researcher who has made pioneering contributions himself, Professor Clifton has mentored and inspired generations of engineering students for more than fifty years. He is widely recognized by many in industry, academia and national laboratories both in the United States and abroad as a caring and effective mentor of undergraduate students, MS and PhD graduate students, visiting scholars and junior faculty in the areas of the dynamic behavior of materials, experimental mechanics, and integration of novel measurements and computational interpretation. Among the close to fifty PhD and MS students and visiting scholars he mentored, many have made significant contributions, taken up important positions and become leaders in their own right in universities, industry and national laboratories in the United States, Europe and Asia.