Meet Our Team

Discover the extensive expertise and experience of the Center’s professional staff

CREATEs Management Staff

Yusuf Mehta, Ph.D.

Yusuf Mehta, Ph.D., PE

CREATEs Director,

Dr. Yusuf Mehta has extensive experience working on several research projects with New Jersey, Florida, Wisconsin and Rhode Island departments of transportations, Federal Highway Administration and Federal Aviation Administration, and Department of Defense. Since coming to Rowan, Dr. Mehta, has received approximately $9.1 million dollars of external funding in pavements and materials. Dr. Mehta is also the recipient of the Aviation Research Award (2012) American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE), New Jersey DOT Research Implementation Award (2012) Project Title: High RAP in HMA High Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement in Hot Mix Asphalt project funded by New Jersey Department of Transportation was one of the sixteen projects out of 120 that were selected for the 2012 High Value Research Award by the AASHTO Research Advisory Committee (RAC).

Ayman Ali, Ph.D.

Ayman Ali, Ph.D.

CREATEs Associate Director,

Ayman W. Ali, Ph.D., serves as the Associate Director of the Center for Research and Education in Advanced Transportation Engineering Systems (CREATEs) at Rowan University. Dr. Ali has served as a collaborative principal investigator on multiple projects funded by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT). He also served and successfully completed, as a leading researcher, projects funded by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The scope of his projects have covered a wide range of research topics including, but were not limited to, characterizing the performance of pavement materials or additives (both asphalt binder and mixtures), investigating new technologies for use as compaction quality control methods, developing specifications for using these new technologies, determining the life expectancy of various HMA overlay mixes, developing computer software tools for generating specific mechanistic empirical pavement design guideline inputs for the state of Ohio, determining the limitation of warm mix asphalt produced using foamed asphalt binders (WMA-FA), and characterizing the laboratory and field performance of WMA-FA mixtures.

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Kristine Rivera

CREATEs Administrative Assistant,

Kristine Rivera is the Administrative Assistant for CREATES and supports the department with all issues of procurement, maintaining grants and executing our many workshops and tours. Kristine also owns and operates an organic farm and aquaponics greenhouse in Franklinville, NJ and is an avid supporter of renewable resourcing and raising the population of bees in the Mid-Atlantic.

Michelle Schwaiger

CREATEs Budget Coordinator,

Michelle Schwaiger joined CREATES in October 2019 as the Budget Coordinator, managing all of the department’s federal and state agency grants which make our multitude of research projects possible.  Michelle formerly worked at Rowan’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department for 4 years.  She enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

CREATEs Research Faculty

Jagadish Torlapati, Ph.D.


Dr. Torlapati is a Lecturer at the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Rowan University. He specializes in environmental impacts of PAHs, stormwater management, mathematical optimization using evolutionary algorithms, high performance computing, and bioremediation of chemical contaminants. In his previous role, Dr. Torlapati was a post-doctoral research associate at New Jersey Institute of Technology. He has developed numerical models to simulate the biodegradation of PAHs in beached oil during the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska as well as the BP oil spill in Gulf of Mexico. In addition, he has worked on the ecological impact of flood mitigation structures on the New Jersey shoreline due to Hurricane Sandy.

Mohammad Jalayer, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor,

Dr. Mohammad Jalayer’s is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rowan University. Dr. Jalayer’s interest is in traffic engineering and he has been deeply involved in research related to traffic operations and safety, statistical methods and applications in transportation, and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). He has made major contributions to several projects contracted with Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), and the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) in recent years.

Dr. Jalayer has authored or coauthored more than 50 scholarly articles and papers that have been published in scientific journals and conference proceedings. Dr. Jalayer is the recipient of several prestigious awards such as 2016 National Highway Safety Information System (HSIS), 2017 ASCE -CJB Young Civil Engineer of Year,  and 2017 ITE-Northeastern District Rising Star Program. Dr. Jalayer is a member of ASCE T&DI Transportation Safety Committees, ITE, and ASCE. He received a doctorate in civil engineering from Auburn University in 2016.

Gilson R. Lomboy, D.Eng., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor,

Gilson R. Lomboy, D.Eng., Ph.D., is an assistant professor at the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Rowan University. Dr. Lomboy specializes in cement-based materials, focusing on hydration, rheology, durability, sustainable materials, nano-modification and characterization. Dr. Lomboy study and develop high performance concrete (HPC). In a project on durability, concrete permeability was reduced to determine the required permeability and strength such that air entrainment is no longer needed for resistance to cyclic freezing and thawing. Another research was the development of self-consolidating concrete with sufficient green strength and shape stability for extrusion without mechanical vibration. He had developed HPC for rapid concrete repair by using limestone fines, fly ash and silica fume (by products), to transform a low value materials into a high performance product while prolonging infrastructure life, improving performance and materials sustainability. In a another research, he studied the mitigation of shrinkage cracking of HPC bridge decks by using admixtures such as shrinkage reducing and compensating admixtures, and superabsorbent polymers for internal curing.

Cheng Zhu, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor,

Dr. Zhu’s (Ph.D. 2016, Georgia Institute of Technology) research primarily concerns multi-scale soil and rock behavior under coupled processes across various time scales, with emphasis placed on microstructure characterization, constitutive model formulation, and computational geomechanics, for applications in geological storage and energy geotechnics. Prior to joining the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Rowan, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin. At Rowan University, he teaches courses in geotechnical engineering and geomechanics. He is a recipient of James S. Lai Outstanding Graduate Award from the geosystems group at Georgia Tech and a member of the “Future Leaders” program of American Rock Mechanics Association (ARMA).

Adriana Trias, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor,

Adriana Trias received her PhD in Civil Engineering from Rutgers University, with research and teaching interests related to the use of emerging technologies to safely and cost-effectively extend infrastructure service lives. These interests have grown from her experiences living in an underdeveloped country, which highlighted, in very stark terms, the importance of a well-functioning infrastructure. Over the last five years Adriana has participated and led numerous research efforts to improve infrastructure assessment and prioritization through the use of remote sensing, autonomous systems, and accelerated testing approaches. Through these studies she has had opportunities to lead multiple field deployments, the design and execution of laboratory studies, various data processing and visualization efforts, and a variety of model-based simulation activities.

Ghulam Rasool, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor,

Ghulam Rasool is an assistant professor with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering. His current research is focused in the areas of machine learning, and signal processing. His research is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), US Department of Education, US Department of Transportation (through the University Transportation Center (UTC), Rutgers University), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), New Jersey Health Foundation (NJHF), and Lockheed Martin. He received his Ph.D. in Systems Engineering from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2014. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) from 2014 to 2016, working in the areas of neuroscience, biomedical image/signal processing, machine learning, and control systems.

Dr. Nasrine Bendjilali, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor,

Dr. Nasrine Bendjilali is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics and the coordinator for the graduate program in mathematics at Rowan University. After receiving her Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Lehigh University, she joined the Division of Medical Genetics as a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, CA. Prior to joining Rowan University, Dr. Bendjilali spent three years as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Center for Cerebrovascular Research, University of California, San Francisco, where she mainly worked on identifying genetic factors contributing to risk and development of brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM).

Dr. Bendjilali’s research focuses on developing new statistical procedures for the analysis of large scale data. She is also interested in the design and analysis of high-throughput genomic data and is actively involved in the statistical analysis from various projects in physics and engineering.

Harold Connolly, Jr., Ph.D.


Professor Connolly is founding Chair and Professor of Geology within the Department of Geology at Rowan University.  He joined the faculty in the fall of 2016 and has led the effort to create the undergraduate (B.S. and B.A.) and graduate degree (Ph.D.) programs in Geology, including detailed curriculum development.  He has served as a member of the faculty at the City University of New York for 15 years, prior to coming to Rowan.  His post-doctoral years were spent at the California Institute of Technology and was educated at Rutgers University, earning 3 degrees in Geological Sciences.  He is a petrologist who studies scientific problems in the fields of cosmochemistry, meteorites and planetary science.

Seyed Hooman Ghasemi, Ph.D.

Lecturer, Structural Engineering

Seyed Hooman Ghasemi is a faculty member at Rowan University,  a former Research Associate at Washington State University and Assistant Professor at Azad Qazvin University. He obtained his Ph.D. degree from Auburn University in the USA under Prof. Andrzej S. Nowak’s supervision. His research interests are mainly focused on bridge engineering, structural engineering, target reliability of structures, structural reliability & infrastructural resilience analysis, structural design/assessment, and probabilistic structural seismic design. Also, he is working on probabilistic fracture & fatigue failure analysis, development of probabilistic failure criteria, ground motion selection, critical excitation & performance-based design, and code calibration (LRFD) concerning bridges, tunnels, and various infrastructural components.

Dr. Ning Wang

Assistant Professor, Computer Science

Dr. Ning Wang is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at Rowan University. He received his Ph.D. degree from Department of Computer and Information Sciences, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA. Previously, he obtained his B.E. degree from School of Physical Electronics, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu, Sichuan, China.

Dr. Wang is interested in applying emerging deep learning techniques into Internet of Things systems to develop innovative services (e.g., intelligent transportation systems, edge computing, and smart home/building/campus). He focuses on scheduling, resource management, and decision-making problems. He has published more than thirty papers in major conferences and journals, for example, IEEE ICDCS, IEEE INFOCOM and IEEE/ACM IWQoS, and IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing. His research is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Caitlin Purdy

Caitlin Purdy

Technician & Laboratory Manager,

Caitlin Purdy (B.S., 2013, Chemical Engineering, Rowan University) is the Lab Manger for Rowan University Construction Materials Laboratory and a Researcher at CREATEs. She has worked in construction material engineering research for 6 years. Caitlin is responsible for managing research-contract projects with outside agencies, fee-for-service testing, AASHTO/AMRL certification testing, undergraduate student training, and research consultation for grant funded research projects. This includes material/equipment acquisition, sample preparation, test execution, data analysis, and interpretation of results. She is also responsible for maintaining and calibrating equipment used in material testing.

Ian Sennstrom

Ian Sennstrom

Laboratory Coordinator,

Ian Sennstrom is the Laboratory Coordinator for the Rowan University Center for Research and Education in Advanced Transportation Engineering Systems. He has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Rowan University. Ian is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the Heavy Vehicle Simulator, as well as equipment used in the laboratory.

Kayleigh McDevitt

Laboratory Assistant,

Kayleigh (B.S, 2018, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Rowan University) participated in the Rowan CREATEs Fellowship Program for most of her undergraduate career and worked in construction engineering for a local New Jersey plant while an undergrad. Kayleigh is currently assisting in research with post graduate students and aids in training undergraduate students that are part of the Fellowship Program.

Schaina Kolodziej

Laboratory Technician,

Schaina is a laboratory technician for CREATEs. She has ten years of geotechnical experience in advanced testing of soils, and has worked on large scale projects such as the widening of the Garden State Parkway, NJTP interchange 6-8, and the Hurricane Sandy Beach Replenishment Project.  In the lab she is currently assisting with calibrating and maintaining the equipment used in materials testing, the elastic binder project and deicing project.

Shahriar Abubakri

Post Doctoral Fellow

Dr. Abubakri joined Rowan University in December 2019 and has worked on several DoD-funded projects, including cold weather concrete for structural applications, cold weather conductive concrete, and classifications of recycled concrete aggregates. Dr. Abubakri received his Ph.D in Civil Engineering in 2019, and MEng in Mechanical Engineering in 2013 from Sheffield Hallam University. He co-authored a number of peer-reviewed journal articles.

Mahdi Habibpour

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Dr. Mahdi Habibpour’s research interests lie in the area of Asphalt Pavement Recycling, Material Properties, Sustainable Transportation, Road Safety & Crash Analyze, and Traffic Engineering.​

Sk Faisal Kabir

Post-Doctoral Fellow,

Dr. Kabir is currently working on multiple projects funded by the Department of Defense. Currently, at CREATEs, he is actively working on four different projects: (1) performance evaluation of warm mix additives in a colder environment, (2) Improving Asphalt Binder Properties for Cold Regions Using Plastic Modifiers, (3) Development of self-healing asphalt mixtures & (4) Rejuvenation of Recycled asphalt pavements. Prior to moving to Rowan University, Dr. Kabir served as a postdoctoral scholar at Arizona State University, where he earned his Ph.D. in Civil, Environmental and Sustainable Engineering from there. He obtained his MS from North Carolina A&T State University and BSc in Civil Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. He has worked extensively on enhancing the durability and chemo-mechanics of polymeric materials like crumb rubber, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and polypropylene (PP). Another aspect of his research is investigating the rejuvenation of crumb rubber modifiers using phenol-rich bio-oils, characterizing the performance of these surface-activated materials as modifiers in binders. To date, he has published 15 peer-reviewed technical articles.

Harsh Pandya

Pose-Doctoral Fellow,

Harsh Pandya is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Rowan University. He earned a Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering (2011), a Master’s in Structural Engineering (2013) from The M.S.University of Baroda, India, M.S.(2016) and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering (2021) with Specialization in Structural Engineering from Rowan University.

Harsh has worked on research projects, including projects funded by the USDOT, NSF, and CREATEs. He has eight peer-reviewed publications and has taught Field Surveying classes and laboratory classes in Civil Engineering Materials, Environmental Engineering, and Geotechnical Engineering at Rowan University. He is currently working on Full Scale Evaluation of Fiber-Reinforced HMA project funded by Department of Defense (DOD) at CREATEs.

CREATEs Students

Ahmed Saidi

PhD Candidate

Research Project:  Optimizing Cement and Water Content for Cold In-Place Recycling in Cold Regions

Sponsoring Agency: Department of Defense / US Army Corps of Engineers

Sajid Ahmed Hasan

Graduate Research Fellow

Debzani Mitra

Graduate Research Fellow

Ali Raza Khan

Graduate Research Fellow

Ahmad Alfalah

PhD Candidate

Research Project:  Laboratory and Full-Scale Evaluation of Fiber-Reinforced Asphalt Mixtures

Sponsoring Agency: Department of Defense / US Army Corps of Engineers

R.V. Sushanth

Graduate Research Fellow

Zahra Vafakhah

Graduate Research Fellow

Zhuang Zhuo

Graduate Teaching Fellow

Research Project:  Insulated Flexible Pavement Systems For Cold Regions Applications

Sponsoring Agency: Department of Defense /US Army Corps of Engineers

Kaniz Roksana

Graduate Research Fellow

Ashita Marath

Graduate Research Fellow

Tasnia Khan

Graduate Research Fellow

Research Project:  Classification and Production of Recycled Concrete Aggregates Based on Concrete Performance

Sponsoring Agency: Department of Defense / ERDC / CRREL

Mahmoud Samara

Graduate Research Fellow

Research Project:  Classification and Production of Recycled Concrete Aggregates Based on Concrete Performance

Sponsoring Agency: Department of Defense / ERDC / CRREL

Rui Liu

Graduate Research Fellow

Research Project:  Noninvasive 3D Imaging and Characterization of Permafrost using Electromagnetic Induction Method

Sponsoring Agency: Department of Defense /US Army Corps of Engineers

Deep Patel

Graduate Research Fellow

Research Project:  Wrong-Way Driving Solutions, Policy and Guidance

Sponsoring Agency: Transportation Research Board, Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine

Parisa Hosseini

Graduate Research Fellow

Research Project:  Wrong-Way Driving Solutions, Policy, and Guidance

Sponsoring Agency: National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP)

Ruqaya Alfaris

Graduate Research Fellow

Shaini Aluthgun Hewage

Post Doctoral Fellow

Shaini is studying the microbially induced carbonate precipitation (MICP) process in soil stabilization at the molecular level using Molecular Dynamic (MD) Simulations and studying the fine grain and saline soil desiccation, freeze-thaw damage characteristics using the 2D and 3D image processing techniques.

Chenchen Huang

Graduate Research Fellow

Research Projects

Discover the incredible resources and research capabilities that CREATEs has to offer.

Explore Our Research
Accelerated Pavement Testing

Our facilities include a fully instrumented accelerated pavement testing facility (RUAPTF) and a Heavy Vehicle Simulator (HVS) that allows for applying accelerated loading that simulates 20 years of traffic in as few as 3 to 6 months.

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Construction Materials Laboratory

The Rowan University Construction Materials Laboratory (RUCOM) is based at Rowan University’s South Jersey Technology Park. It is currently AASHTO accredited for asphalt binder and hot mix asphalt. The laboratory devotes its time to research projects and industrial projects.

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