Professor Sun’s research interests are in the mechanics and physics of geological and porous materials such as soil, rocks, concrete and salt. His work mainly focuses on computational poromechanics and geomechanics for a wide spectrum of applications ranging from field scale applications such as geological storage of carbon dioxide, hydraulic fracture, geological disposal of nuclear waste, vehicle-soil-water interaction to micro-scale simulations of the 3D printing processes and fragmentation and fracture of a single crystal grain. Sun’s research group specializes in the creation, derivation, implementation, verification and validation of theoretical and computational models for engineering applications. His research group acts as a bridge among mathematical science, theoretical mechanics and engineering industry. The research group’s representative works include but not limited to the development of solution techniques for predicting brittle-ductile transition of porous media, coupled deformation-diffusion in non-isothermal saturated and unsaturated porous media, formulations of stabilized mixed-field finite element model for large deformation multiphysics problems, modeling and homogenization of mechanical and hydraulic properties of porous media from CT images, digital rock and granular physics, modeling freezing and thawing of geological materials under the changing climate, and interdisciplinary innovative of mathematics concepts and ideas, such as graph theory, Lie algebra, and data-driven and machine learning approach for computational mechanics and geophysics problems.

Sun obtained his B.S. from UC Davis (2005); M.S. in civil engineering (geomechanics) from Stanford (2007); M.A. degree from Princeton (2008); and Ph.D. in theoretical and applied mechanics from Northwestern (2011). Prior to joining Columbia, he was a senior member of technical staff in the mechanics of materials department at Sandia National Laboratories (Livermore, CA). He is the recipient of the John Argyris Award (2020), NSF CAREER Faculty Development Award in 2019, ASCE EMI Leonardo da Vinci Award in 2018, the Zienkiewicz Numerical Methods in Engineering Prize in 2017, US Air Force Young Investigator Program Award in 2017, the Dresden Fellowship in 2016, US Army Young Investigator Program Award in 2015, and the Caterpillar Best Paper Prize in 2013, among others. Sun’s research group has been sponsored by National Nuclear Security Administration, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative, Army Research Office, Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, Sandia National Laboratories, and Columbia University, among others.