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Stuart Leigh Phoenix

  • Stuart Leigh Phoenix
  • Dept: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Title: Professor
  • Address: 321 Thurston Hall
  • Phone: 607 255-8818
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After receiving his Ph.D., Phoenix worked for two years as a senior research associate at Fabric Research Laboratories, in Dedham, MA, before joining the Cornell faculty in 1974. In 1983, Phoenix received the Fiber Society Award for Distinguished Achievement in Basic or Applied Fiber Science, and in 1992 he won the American Society for Testing and Materials' Harold DeWitt Smith Award. In 2005, he won the NASA NESC Engineering Excellence Award for his pressure vessel work in support of the Shuttle's Return to Flight. Recently he has turned his attention to modeling ballistic impact and resistance of soft body armor worn by police and other security personnel.

Research Interests

Our research involves theoretical and experimental studies of the long-term reliability of fibrous composites under high stresses. Examples include pressure vessels, rocket-motor casings, and wind turbine blades fabricated from aramid, S-glass or carbon fibers in an epoxy. High reliability over long times in difficult environments is a key concern, especially since real-time evaluation on large numbers of test specimens is prohibitive. His effort is thus directed toward developing micromechanical and statistical models of failure as a framework for interpreting test data. Recently, he has turned his attention to modeling ballistic impact into fibrous materials in order to develop improved materials and architectures that will increase the ballistic resistance of soft body armor for personal protection and flexible composite panels for light vehicles.

Specific areas of interest are:

Creep-Rupture Models for Polymer, Metal, and Ceramic-Matrix Fibrous Composites: interactions between fiber fracture statistics and matrix creep laws to determine exponents and scalings of fracture distributions

Computational Methods for Calculating Stress Fields around Arrays of Interacting Cracks: development of influence field approaches to rapidly calculate stresses in materials with many cracks

Fast Influence Function Techniques for Calculating Stresses around Fiber Breaks in Fibrous Composites: development of influence function techniques for calculating fiber and matrix stresses under viscoelastic deformation of the matrix

Ballistic impact into fibrous materials: development of models and scalings to understand impact dynamics and stresses during penetration of projectiles into body armor

Teaching Interests

Professor Phoenix regularly teaches the junior level and first year graduate level applied mathematics courses as well as his course in advanced composite materials.

Selected Publications

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Selected Awards and Honors

  • Outstanding Referee for 2014 for the Journals of the American Physical Society (Physical Review, Physical Review Letters and Reviews of Modern Physics) 2013


  • BS (Engineering), University of Guelph, 1967
  • MS (Agricultural Engineering), University of Guelph, 1968
  • Ph D (Mechanical Engineering), Cornell University, 1972