José Wilches, who is about to complete his second doctoral degree in CEE as part of a joint agreement between Virginia Tech and the Pontifical University of Chile (PUC), has been awarded  the prestigious fellowship “President's Postdoctoral Fellowship Program from the University of California System. The scholarship program was established in 1984 to encourage outstanding students and minority individuals to earn a doctorate and pursue academic careers. The program currently offers postdoctoral fellowships, professional development, and faculty mentorship to outstanding scholars in all fields whose research, teaching, and service will contribute to diversity and equal opportunity at the University of California.

Jose completed his first doctoral degree at PUC in January 2022 on improving the behavior of highway bridges under large seismic forces by utilizing an innovative isolation system, and will complete his VT degree this summer on the topic of advanced modelling of composite steel-concrete members.  Both degrees are the joint supervision of Drs. Roberto Leon (VT) and Hernán Santa María (PUC).

“I consider that this award is the result of the effort and perseverance of all these years. While this fellowship will allow me to work with other top-tier institutions and researchers and make me a competitive candidate for academic positions at the University in California of California System, the most important thing is to convey to people, especially those of us in the academic world, that everything is possible as long as you are motivated and enjoy what you do” said student José Wilches.

José will begin his postdoctoral fellowship on July 1 at the University of California San Diego under the supervision of Dr. Jose I. Restrepo. His postdoctoral research will focus on developing a novel connection for composite beams and walls that utilizes a reduced section approach to improve seismic performance.