DFI Announces Winners of 2020 Young Professor and Student Paper Competitions 

October 19, 2020, Hawthorne N.J.:

DFI announces the winners of the 2020 Paper Competitions. 

Alejandro Martinez, Ph.D., assistant professor, and Kyle O’Hara, Ph.D., graduate student researcher, University of California, Davis, are the winners of the Young Professor Paper Competition. Their paper, “Applications of Frictional Directionality for Monotonically- and Cyclically-loaded Piles,” describes the load-transfer behavior of piles with surface inspired by the belly scales of snakes that mobilize a direction-dependent skin friction. Test results are shared and discussion is provided on the potential benefits that the bio-inspired surface texture could realize on the overall performance of axially-loaded piles. 

Aaron Gallant, Ph.D., P.E., and Danilo Botero-Lopez, research assistant, University of Maine, received a special recognition award for their paper, “On the Basal Stability of Embankments Supported on Fractured Unreinforced Rigid Columns Over Soft Soils.” 

Rabie Farrag, Ph.D. student researcher, University of California, Irvine, is the winner of the Student Paper Competition. His paper is titled “Experimental Investigation of Shear Demands on Rock Socketed Drilled Shafts Subjected to Cyclic Lateral Loading.”  This paper presents an experimental research program of three large-scale, fully instrumented drilled shafts with different transverse reinforcement ratios that studies the lateral load transfer of rock-socketed drilled shafts subject to cyclic loading until complete structural failure and evaluates current design recommendations for piles with rock-based tip fixity. 

The 2020 winners of DFI’s Young Professor and Student Paper Competitions are presenting their papers on Thursday, October 29, 12:30-1:00 p.m. ET, during DFI’s 45th DFI Annual Conference on Deep Foundations – an Online Conference being held October 27-30. 

DFI and the DFI Educational Trust annually hold the Young Professor and Student Paper Competitions as a means to help bridge the gap among practice, studies and research. The 2020 winners receive free conference registration, a library of up to 20 printed DFI Publications and a complimentary two-year DFI Individual Membership. 

Contact: Emilio S. Fandino, Trust Administrator, (973) 423-4030,

About DFI Educational Trust: The Deep Foundations Institute Educational Trust ( is an independent, 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization established in 2006 by the Deep Foundations Institute (DFI) as its charitable arm. The mission of the Trust is to support and encourage individuals in the fields of study related to the deep foundation industry by providing scholarships and opportunities to meet and work with deep foundation industry leaders.

About Deep Foundations Institute (DFI)
DFI ( is an international association of contractors, engineers, manufacturers, suppliers, academics and owners in the deep foundations industry. Our multidisciplinary membership creates a consensus voice and a common vision for continual improvement in the planning, design and construction of deep foundations and excavations. We bring together members for networking, education, communication and collaboration. With our members, we promote the advancement of the deep foundations industry through technical committees, educational programs and conferences, publications, research, government relations and outreach. DFI has more than 4,000 members worldwide.

Alejandro Martinez, Ph.D., assistant professor, University of California, Davis

Kyle O’Hara, Ph.D., graduate student researcher, University of California, Davis

Rabie Farrag, Ph.D. student researcher, University of California, Irvine