Ryan Hurley

Assistant Professor

Research Interests

Mechanics of structurally complex materials, granular and geologic materials, multiscale materials modeling, 3D materials characterization, impact and wave propagation.


Ryan Hurley, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, studies the relationship between microstructure and macroscopic properties in granular materials, rocks, and concrete using experiments, theory and simulations. He is a Fellow of the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute (HEMI).

Hurley’s recent projects have examined the roles of microscale contact and force networks on the mechanical properties and failure processes of granular materials. He frequently uses 3-D X-ray diffraction, computed tomography and ultrasound transmission measurements to quantify failure processes in soils, rocks and concrete as they occur, without disturbing samples. He also employs X-ray phase contrast imaging to understand the roles of microstructure and inter-particle interfaces on dynamic fracture mechanics in granular materials. All of these measurements support the development of theories and models to quantitatively predict material behavior.

A member of the Engineering Mechanics Institute (ASCE), the American Physical Society, the International Association of Computed Tomography and the American Society of Civil Engineers, Hurley is co-editor of the journal Open Geomechanics and has served as a reviewer for publications such as the Journal of Engineering Mechanics, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Scientific Reports and Computational Mechanics. In 2017, he received the Department of Energy’s Secretary’s Appreciation Award for his contributions to the Source Physics Experiment, which is designed to advance the United States’ ability to detect underground nuclear explosions.

Hurley received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 2011. He then went on to the California Institute of Technology, completing a master’s degree and Ph.D. program in applied mechanics in 2012 and 2015, respectively. Prior to joining the Whiting School of Engineering faculty in 2017, Hurley held an appointment as an assistant research professor at Johns Hopkins while finishing postdoctoral studies in computational geosciences at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.


  • Ph.D. Applied Mechanics 2015, California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
  • M.S. Applied Mechanics 2012, California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
  • B.S. Civil Engineering 2011, University of Maryland College Park
  • 2015 - 2017:  Postdoctoral Fellow in Computational Geosciences, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • 2012 - 2015:  Research Assistant, California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
Research Areas
  • Composites
  • Dynamic behavior of materials
  • Experimental mechanics
  • FRACTURE mechanics
  • GRANULAR materials
  • Geologic materials
  • Mechanics of materials
Journal Articles
  • Hurley RC, Lind, J, Pagan, DC, Akin, MC, Herbold, EB (2018).  In situ grain fracture mechanics during uniaxial compaction of granular solids.  Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids.  112.  273-290.
  • Hurley RC, Herbold EB, Pagan DC (2018).  Characterization of the crystal structure, kinematics, stresses and rotations in angular granular quartz during compaction.  Journal of Applied Crystallography.  51(4).  1021-1034.
  • Hall, SA, Hurley RC, Zhai, C, Herbold, EB, Majkut, M, Wright, J, Engqvist, J (2018).  Granular stress and strain evolution in triaxial compression.  Geotechnique Letters.
  • Marshall JP, Hurley RC, Arthur D, Vlahinic I, Senatore C, Iagnemma K, Trease B, Andrade JE (2018).  Failures in sand in reduced gravity environments.  Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids.  113.  1-12.
  • Vorobiev O, Ezzedine S, Hurley RC (2018).  Near-field non-radial motion generation from underground chemical explosions in jointed granite.  Geophysical Journal International.  212(1).  25-41.
  • Hurley RC, Pagan DC (2018).  An in-situ study of stress evolution and fracture growth during compression of concrete.  International Journal of Solids and Structures.
  • Zhai, C, Herbold, EB, Hall, SA, Hurley RC (2018).  Particle rotations and energy dissipation during mechanical compaction of granular materials.  Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids.
  • Hurley RC, Hall SA, Wright J (2017).  Multi-scale mechanics of granular solids from grain-resolved x-ray measurements.  Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Scien.  473(2207).  0491.
  • Hurley RC, Vorobiev OY, Ezzedine SM (2017).  An algorithm for continuum modeling of rocks with multiple embedded nonlinearly-compliant joints.  Computational Mechanics.  60(2).  235-252.
  • Hurley RC, Lind J, Pagan DC, Akin MC, Herbold EB (2017).  Linking initial microstructure and local response during quasi-static granular compaction.  Physical Review E.  96(1).  012905.
  • Hurley RC, Hall SA, Andrade JE, Wright J (2017).  Force measurements in stiff, 3D opaque granular materials.  EPJ Web of Conference.  140(02006).  1-4.
  • Hurley RC, Andrade JE (2017).  Continuum modeling of rate-dependent granular flows in SPH.  Computational Particle Mechanics.  4(1).  119-130.
  • Hurley RC, Hall SA, Andrade JE, Wright J (2016).  Quantifying interparticle forces and heterogeneity in 3D granular materials.  Physical Review Letters.  117.  098005.
  • Hurley RC, Lim KW, Ravichandran G, Andrade JE (2016).  Dynamic inter-particle force inference in granular materials: Method and application.  Experimental Mechanics.  56(2).  217-229.
  • Hurley RC, Andrade JE (2015).  Strength of granular materials in transient and steady state rapid shear.  Procedia Engineering.  103.  237-245.
  • Booth AM, Hurley RC, Lamb MP, Andrade JE (2014).  Force chains as the link between particle and bulk friction angles in granular material.  Geophysical Research Letters.  41.  8862-8869.
  • Zhao X, Hurley RC, Sutton M, Fourney W, Leiste U, Deng X (2014).  Small scale models subjected to buried blast loading part II: frame accelerations with hulls and additional mitigation methods.  Experimental Mechanics.  54(5).  857-869.
  • Zhao Xing, Shultis G, Hurley RC, Sutton M, Fourney W, Leiste U, Deng X (2014).  Small scale models subjected to buried blast loading part I: floorboard acceleration and related passenger injury metrics with protective hulls.  Experimental Mechanics.  54(4).  539-555.
  • Hurley RC, Marteau E, Ravichandran G, Andrade JE (2014).  Extracting inter-particle forces in opaque granular materials: beyond photoelasticity.  Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids.  63.  154-166.
Book Chapters
  • Hurley RC, Lim KW, Andrade JE (2015).  Grain-Scale Measurements During Low Velocity Impact in Granular Media.  Rapid Penetration into Granular Media: Visualizing the Fundamental Physics of Rapid Earth Penetration.  Elsevier.  291-317.
  • Brodrick T, Hurley RC, Fourney WL (2014).  Mitigation of loading on personnel in light-armored vehicles using small model testing.  Blast Mitigation.  Springer, New York, NY.  249-277.
  • "Combining In-Situ X-ray Tomography and Diffraction to Study the Micromechanics of Granular Media and Concrete", Multi-Scale Materials Under the Nanoscope.  District of Columbia Washington, D.C., United States of America (the).  December 4, 2018
  • "X-ray Tomography and Diffraction for Granular Micromechanics", Hong Kong University Department Seminar.  Hong Kong, Hong Kong.  November 21, 2018
  • "Grain-Resolved Structure, Stress, and Force Measurements in Frictional 3D Granular Materials", Granular Matter Gordon Research Conference.  North Eastn Massachusetts, United States of America (the).  July 26, 2018
  • "Combining In-situ X-ray Imaging and Diffraction to Understand the Micromechanics and Failure Processes of Granular Materials", Indian Head Brown Bag Seminar.  Indian Head Maryland, United States of America (the).  January 1, 2018
  • "Studies of Micromechanics and Failure in Granular Materials Using X-ray CT and Diffraction", GM3: Geo-Mechanics: from Micro to Macro.  London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the).  December 18, 2017
  • "Investigating in situ failure in granular materials", Society of Engineering Science 2017 Meeting.  Boston Massachusetts, United States of America (the).  July 26, 2017
  • "Inter-particle force measurements in 3D, frictional, opaque granular materials", Powders & Grains.  Montpellier, France.  July 6, 2017
  • "Microstructure and Failure Analysis During Granular Compaction Using XRCT and 3DXRD", International Conference on Tomography in Materials and Structure.  Lund, Sweden.  June 30, 2017
  • "Understanding mechanics and stress transmission in granular solids by combining 3DXRD and XRCT.", CHESS Users' Meeting.  Ithaca New York, United States of America (the).  June 7, 2017
  • "Stress, Structure, and Force Measurements in 3D Granular Solids", APS March Meeting 2017.  New Orleans Louisiana, United States of America (the).  March 16, 2017
  • "Inter-particle force measurements in 3D, frictional, opaque granular materials", Gordon Research Conference on Granular Matter.  Easton Massachusetts, United States of America (the).  July 28, 2016
  • "Modeling wave propagation in jointed rock masses at various spatial resolutions", SEG/AGU Conference on Upper Crustal Rock Physics.  Hilo Hawaii, United States of America (the).  July 6, 2016
  • "Inter-particle force inference in opaque granular materials imaged using XRCT and 3DXRD", SIAM Conference on Mathematical Aspects of Materials Science.  Philadelphia Pennsylvania, United States of America (the).  May 5, 2016
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