Researcher Receives $192,000 In Grants For Western Iowa Bridge-Stream Study

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Thanos Papanicolaou, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering in the University of Iowa College of Engineering and associate faculty research engineer at IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, has received a total of $192,000 in research grants, including $112,000 from the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) and $80,000 from the Hungry Canyon Alliance (HCA), for a three-year study of ungaged waterways in western Iowa.

In particular, his research involves water and sediment propagation at knickpoints -- relatively steeper portions of a stream channel. Papanicolaou notes that he uses photelectron sensors to capture the migration of knickpoints in real time. The study will also evaluate how stream banks migrate over time and how streams erode bridge foundations, damaging highways and causing problems for highway maintenance engineers as well as nearby landowners.

In 2005-06, Papanicolaou used a $140,000 IDOT grant to study stream bank erosion and channel alignment at the intersection of the U.S. Highway 169 bridge and the South Raccoon River, about 1.1 miles north of I-80 in Dallas County. That study evaluated "barbs," trapezoidal-shaped structures that project out from the stream bank and into the main channel to deflect currents and reduce stream bank erosion. The goal of his research is to enhance existing design procedures used by the IDOT and by county and civil engineers.