Every year, creative grad students from across the disciplines submit compelling images of their research and scholarship to the Image of Research competition. To accompany each image submission, the creator writes a short paragraph explaining how the image relates to their wider academic work, giving us a glimpse behind the scenes.
We caught up with some of the award winners from the 2020 Image of Research competition to ask them more about their process. Enjoy this interview with Punit Singhvi, a doctoral student in Civil and Environmental Engineering and 3rd place winner in this year’s contest, and then view the video to hear Punit read his award-winning submission, "Asphalt Concrete Brownie with Hot Asphalt Fudge."
Why did you enter Image of Research this year?
When I first heard about the Image of Research Competition, I thought of presenting my research in a more artistic and innovative way. Asphalt binder is often considered a sticky, dirty, and messy material. So, this year, I took this event as an opportunity to present an asphalt binder in the form of an eye-catching brownie that may change people’s perception of this material.
What was the process of coming up with your image?
Asphalt binder when hot has honey or oil-like consistency. While preparing a test specimen, I was pouring asphalt into the test molds and it almost felt like a hot chocolate fudge instead. So, I decided to imitate something like a hot brownie with fudge. Instead of using chocolate, I replaced it with my asphalt samples. And later, improvised the garnishing (which can all be used in making asphalt concrete). I would like to credit my wife for suggesting me to walk to the parking lot and click the image with the yellow pavement marking to make it more impactful.
What did you learn or take away from this experience?
My research focuses on the understanding of asphalt material properties, design of asphalt concrete, asphalt chemistry, asphalt rheology, and asphalt modification. The image communicates the idea of how asphalt materials if prepared with the right blend of ingredients, utmost care, and precision can result in a wonderful functioning pavement.
The image motivates me and encourages me to explore the enormous possibilities in the design and engineering of these materials. The image communicates the idea of how a sticky dirty asphalt if prepared with the utmost care, precision, and right blend of ingredients, can come out to be a wonderful functioning pavement. I hope the image inspires the asphalt community to create, innovate, and design world-class pavements.
This interview was conducted by Nic Morse, Digital Media Specialist here at the Graduate College. Nic came to the Graduate College after owning his own production company in town called, Protagonist Pizza Productions and is now working on videos, graphic design, and motion graphics for Higher Education at Illinois.