Faculty/Staff Directory

Cassandra J. Rutherford

  • Assistant Professor
  • Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering

Main Office

406 Town Engr
Ames, IA 50011
Phone: 515-294-6713


  • Ph.D. Civil and Environmental Engineering, Texas A&M University, 2012
  • M.S. Civil and Environmental Engineering, Texas A&M University, 2004
  • B.S. Civil and Environmental Engineering, Texas A&M University, 2002

Interest Areas

  • Characterization of marine sediments subjected to dynamic loading
  • Relationship between geohazard triggering mechanisms and sediment properties
  • Advancement of laboratory testing devices
  • Offshore sampling equipment
  • Procedures to minimize and quantify disturbance

Brief Biography

Dr. Rutherford is an assistant professor in geotechnical engineering, a licensed professional engineer in the State of Texas and teaches courses related to advanced soil testing, foundations and introduction to geotechnical engineering. Prior to coming to ISU, she worked for six years at TDI-Brooks International and was an assistant professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She recently recieved the NSF award “CAREER: Experimental Modeling of Tidal Current Turbine Foundations: An Integrated Research and Education Plan.” Dr. Rutherford is comitted to outreach to K-12 students and the general public. She has developed programs for the 2nd and 4th grades at Booker T. Washington STEM Academy, a tidal current curriculum for the Girls Adventures in Mathematics, Engineering, and Science (G.A.M.E.S) summer camp program and other programs for high school students and the general public. Dr. Rutherford also serves on a number of professional technical committees including the Soil Properties and Modeling Technical Committee of the Geo-Institute, the Marine Renewable Energy Technical Committee of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the D18 Soil and Rock Technical Committee of the American Society of Testing and Materials, the Marine Foundations Technical Committee of the Deep Foundations Institute and the Offshore Geotechnics Technical Committee of the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering.

Honors & Awards

  • Professional Engineering License, State of Texas No. 121892
  • Teachers Ranked as Excellent, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, 2015, 2016
  • NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, 2015
  • Excellence in Civil Engineering Education (ExCEEd) Fellow, American Society of Civil Engineering
  • SRW Cassie Rutherford Volunteer Organization Award (Namesake), Graduate Student Council and Texas A&M University’s Student Research Week
  • Montgomery Endowed Fellowship Prize, Texas A&M University Office of Graduate Studies
  • Buck Weirus Spirit Award,  Texas A&M University Association of Former Students
  • Guseman Award, Graduate Student Council Texas A&M University


Dr. Rutherford's research interests are hazard mitigation, the characterization of soil subjected to dynamic loading and the design of offshore  foundations  for  renewable  energy  applications. Her research team  also works on  the  advancement  of laboratory testing devices, centrifuge modeling, offshore in situ testing and investigation of offshore geohazards. Dr. Rutherford's research contributes to the development of offshore foundations, such as wind turbine foundations, tidal current turbines and subsea structures for energy production. She was recently awarded the  National  Science  Foundation  CAREER  Award (CMMI-1454413) “Experimental Modeling  of  Tidal  Current  Turbine  Foundations:  An  Integrated  Research  and  Education  Plan.” The  research objective of this work is to evaluate suction caisson foundation systems for tidal current turbines by examining the foundation performance using both 1g bench-scale (conducted in transparent soil and Kaolin) and centrifuge testing  under  horizontal  and  vertical cyclic  loading.  The research  focuses  on  the  cyclic nature of the  vertical, horizontal and moment loading  due  to  waves,  the  rotation  of  the  tidal  current  turbine  blades  and  the  change  in direction of the horizontal loading due to ebb and flow tides. Decreasing the cost of the foundation system can be an important part of making tidal power a viable source of energy; however, it will require a better understanding of  the  soil-foundation  system  response  to  the  possible loading  combinations  and  tools  to  model  the  influence of the soil and foundation on the whole system. Her research  also  involves hazard  mitigation and the characterization  of  soils  under  dynamic  loading.  A current project funded by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC-HQ-12-C-04-0117) investigates the stress-shear strain-volumetric strain behavior of dense sands under seismic loading. The collaborative research involves centrifuge  testing  (Prof.  Scott  Olson, University of Illinois),  numerical  modeling  (Prof.  Youssef  Hashash, University of Illinois)  and  advanced  laboratory testing  (Dr.  Rutherford).  The  experimental  plan  involves  the  use  of  a  newly  constructed  multi-directional simple shear device based on work from her doctoral research at Texas A&M University (Rutherford 2012; Rutherford and Biscontin, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013).

Selected Publications

  1. Taukoor, V. and Rutherford, C.J. “Displacement rate effects during T-bar cycling in remoulded Gulf of Mexico clay” Geotechnique. 1-5. DOI:10.1680/jgeot.16.P.078 (2016).
  2. Wallace, J.F. and Rutherford, C.J. "Geotechnical Properties of Laponite RD" Geotechnical Testing Journal. Special Issue on Physical Modeling with Transparent Soils. Vol. 38, No. 5, 1-15. DOI: 10.1520/GTJ20140211(2015).
  3. Chini, C., Wallace, J. F., Rutherford, C. J. and Peschel, J. M. "Shearing Failure Visualization using Digital Image Correlation and Particle Image Velocimetry in Soft Clay Using a Transparent Soil." Geotechnical Testing Journal. Special Issue on Physical Modeling with Transparent Soils. Vol. 38, No. 5, 1-15. DOI: 10.1520/GTJ20140210 (2015).
  4. Rutherford, C. J. and Biscontin, G. . "Development of a Multi-directional Simple Shear Testing Device." Geotechnical Testing Journal, Vol. 36, No. 6, 1-10. DOI: 10.1520/GTJ20120173 (2013).
  5. Rutherford, C.J., Biscontin, G., Koutsoftas, D. and Briaud, J.L. Design Process of Deep Soil Mixed Walls for Excavation Support. International Journal of Geoengineering Case histories, Vol.1, Issue 2, p.56-72. (2007).