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Douglas Adams

Vice Dean of Engineering
Daniel F. Flowers Professor
Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Associate Provost
Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Civil and Environmental Engineering
Mechanical Engineering

Intellectual Neighborhoods

Research Focus

Research Areas:
- Mechanics
- System identification

Research Interests:
- Nonlinear structural dynamics and vibrations
- Structural health monitoring/diagnostics and damage prognosis
- Noise and vibration control
- Applications in aerospace and automotive systems
- Applications in energy systems including wind turbines and batteries
- Applications in defense and security platforms


Dr. Adams is the Daniel F. Flowers Professor, Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Vanderbilt University as well as Associate Provost responsible for advancing institutional efforts to secure mega awards from external sponsors. He studies the health of materials and machines using sensors to reveal hidden signatures. Specifically, his group pioneered the development of nonlinear approaches for structural health monitoring to realize intelligent structures that are self-aware to prevent failure in energy, security, and manufacturing applications. He founded and co-directs the Laboratory for Systems Integrity and Reliability, a 20,000 sq. ft. facility that is uniquely equipped and staffed for observing how engineered systems behave in realistic experiments at a full scale making it possible to bridge research discoveries to solutions that address societal grand challenges. For example, he leads Vanderbilt in the national $259M Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation funded by the U.S. Department of Energy in collaboration with lead University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Oak Ridge National Laboratory together with over 120 corporate, federal and university partners. This program establishes a composites manufacturing ecosystem that will transform the nation’s capability to economically and energy efficiently produce products ranging from fuel-efficient, safe composite automobiles to lightweight wind turbines.  

Dr. Adams has written 92 peer-reviewed journal papers and 187 other technical articles, and authored a textbook on structural health monitoring as well as 5 book chapters on topics ranging from damage prognosis of composite aerospace structures to health monitoring of wind turbines. He has received over a dozen research awards including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, both the Society for Experimental Mechanics DeMichele and Lazan Awards, and was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He has advised 57 M.S./Ph.D. students, supervised 57 undergraduate researchers, and now works with two Ph.D. students. Dr. Adams teaches courses in mechanics and dynamics, i.e., the way things bend and move, featuring interactive, experiential learning on topics ranging from mechanics in motion pictures to present day disasters. He has won awards for classroom and online teaching and was elected to The Purdue Book of Great Teachers for his contributions in teaching when he was a professor at Purdue University. He has disseminated his research findings in over 150 seminars and 30 short courses, many of which were delivered internationally to universities, research institutes, and corporations. He has secured ~120 federal and industrial sponsored programs for over $35M in funding and has nine patents and a number of patent applications in process. He also serves professional societies including ASME and SEM in several capacities. He serves the university as a member of the Transinstitutional Programs (TIPS) Council to help guide the implementation of the Academic Strategic Plan and works within the School of Engineering in the risk, reliability, and resilience and cyberphysical systems intellectual neighborhoods.

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