Professor’s Geotechnical Research Makes It Mark

Geotechnical expert Kristin Sample-Lord, PhD, PE, assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Geotechnical expert Kristin Sample-Lord, PhD, PE, assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Kristin Sample-Lord, PhD, PE, is only in her third year as assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Villanova University. Her limited tenure, however, has not in any way limited her professional progress. This year, she was awarded seed grants from the National Science Foundation for research she’s collaborating on with other universities; two of her journal publications received special recognition; and she and Virginia Smith, PhD, assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, were awarded $245,000 from the PA Department of Environmental Protection’s Growing Greener Program.

An expert in geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering, Dr. Sample-Lord’s specialties include soil barrier systems for protection of human health and the environment, green infrastructure for stormwater management, and innovative methods for laboratory testing of soil properties. Her expertise was acknowledged by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which selected her article “Membrane Behavior of Unsaturated Sodium Bentonite” as the editor's choice for the January 2018 volume of the Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering. The Alliance of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Science Societies similarly recognized her work, choosing “Apparatus for Measuring Coupled Membrane and Diffusion Behavior of Unsaturated Sodium Bentonite” for special promotion in the February 2018 volume of CSA News Magazine. Her research also led to two $5,000 NSF seed grants—sub-awards from Syracuse University—to study geosynthetic clay liners and cyclic soil testing.

On the PA DEP Growing Greener project—“Impact of nutrient and fine sediment accumulation and distribution on stormwater rain garden performance”—Dr. Sample-Lord says she and Dr. Smith are “leveraging their combined expertise in water and soil to study the movement and impact of sediment, water and contaminants” on Villanova’s four campus rain gardens. Professors Andrea Welker, PhD, associate dean of academic affairs, and Bridget Wadzuk, PhD, are serving as co-PIs on the three-year project.

In addition to her professional success this year, Dr. Sample-Lord and her husband welcomed a new family member in February 2018. Vivian Leigh Lord joined big sister Ava (4), and Dr. Sample-Lord is busy mastering the work/life balance!