I am currently expanding my research interests and collaborations with other groups around campus. Among those is the Extraterrestrial Engineering and Construction Research (EXTEC) initiative, which is a partnership between NASA, academia, industry, and labs and facilities in the TAMU Colleges of Engineering, Architecture, and Geosciences. EXTEC team members can be found here.

As part of this initiative, an internal Texas A&M Triads for Transformation (T3) grant, awarded to Drs. Julia Reece, Youjun Deng, and Bjorn Birgisson, will support the geomaterial characterization of lunar simulants with agglutinate particles.  Future space missions will send humans and infrastructure back to the Moon. Space craft landing pads and roving vehicles, for example, will directly interact with the lunar soils, and therefore need to be designed and optimized for their properties. Since samples of actual lunar soils are extremely scarce, we will use and fully characterize simulants, which are synthesized materials from Earth that mimic the soils on the Moon. We will examine chemical, physical, and geomechanical properties of these simulants using a range of laboratory techniques. Understanding how these simulated lunar soils behave will guide the fabrication process of them and the development of materials for construction specific applications.