Roberto Leon, professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, was reappointed as the David H. Burrows Professor of Construction Engineering by Virginia Tech President Tim Sands and Interim Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke.
The David H. Burrows Professorship was established in 1986 through a gift to the Virginia Tech Foundation from Burrows, a 1942 graduate of Virginia Tech. The professorship is awarded to an outstanding professor in construction engineering within the College of Engineering. Recipients of the professorship hold the title for a period of five years.
Leon has held the title of Burrows Professor of Construction Engineering since he arrived at Virginia Tech in 2011. Acknowledged as a leading researcher in the field of steel-concrete composite structures and seismic design and performance of new and existing steel and composite structures, Leon’s scholarship has beneficially impacted numerous national and international design codes.
His work as senior author is currently the second most cited in the commentary in the latest edition (2016) of the steel building specification (AISC 360), and it was the most cited in the previous version (2010). Leon has published more than 150 peer-reviewed papers, books, and book chapters.
Leon has directed or co-directed nearly $7 million of external research funding at Georgia Tech, the University of Minnesota, and Virginia Tech, and has been part of large, multidisciplinary teams that have collectively conducted more than $120 million in research.
The quality of Leon’s work has been widely recognized, including his selection by the American Society of Civil Engineers for the Norman Medal and the State-of-the-Art of Civil Engineering Award on two occasions and his selection to be the 1993 T.R. Higgins Lecturer by the American Institute of Steel Construction. His contributions were also recognized by his election to Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2015, the highest recognition the profession confers.
Students consider Leon a dedicated classroom instructor and research advisor. During his time at Virginia Tech, he completely revamped the laboratory course on construction materials, adding new materials and non-destructive testing topics into the curriculum. He has advised or co-advised to completion 30 Ph.D. students, 33 master’s degree students, and more than 20 undergraduate research students.
Leon is a past president of the American Society of Civil Engineers Structural Engineering Institute Board of Governors, a past president of the Consortium of Universities for Research on Earthquake Engineering, and serves on the American Institute of Steel Construction Committee on Specifications. He has also served in leadership positions on numerous technical committees and currently serves as one of six members of the Advisory Committee on Structural Safety of the Department of Veterans Affairs Facilities.
In addition, Leon has served on the editorial boards of four journals in the field of structural engineering and has chaired or co-chaired the organization and delivery of six international conferences.
Leon received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, a master’s degree from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.