Cassandra Rutherford


Assistant Professor
Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering


406 Town Engr
813 Bissell Rd
Ames, IA 50011-1066


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 received the NSF award “CAREER: Experimental Modeling of Tidal Current Turbine Foundations: An Integrated Research and Education Plan.” Dr. Rutherford is committed 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

  • United States University Council for Geotechnical Education and Research Early Career Educator Award, 2021
  • Joseph C. and Elizabeth A. Anderlik Faculty Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Dept. of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, Iowa State University, 2019
  • 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 the characterization of soil subjected to dynamic loading, geo-hazard mitigation, ground improvement and the design of deep foundations. She is passionate about helping society overcome geo-hazards (floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, slope failures) and invest in future renewable energy options (tidal current turbines and wind turbines). Within these four areas, she has worked in the advancement of laboratory cyclic testing devices to investigate the effects of earthquakes on nuclear power plants and offshore slopes. She has developed novel methods for soil improvement such as using magnetic particles to improve soil which uses recycled materials such as iron filings and steel slag. She has conducted centrifuge modeling and analysis of deep foundations for developing offshore tidal current turbines and wind turbines. She has furthered research in offshore in situ testing using surrogate soil materials to “see” how in situ devices are moving through soil. Finally, Dr. Rutherford has led national and international projects related to the investigation of geohazards (submarine landslides, levee failures, erosion, and permafrost degradation). Dr. Rutherford won a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2015 related to offshore foundations for tidal current turbines. Her CAREER award also developed K-12 curriculum to encourage the next generation of engineers to become passionate about renewable energy. Recently, Dr. Rutherford has worked to better understand the dynamic loading of granular materials including gravel roads. Approximately 60% of Iowa’s roads are gravel. Her research helps Iowa DOT engineers improve performance of gravel roads while reducing maintenance costs.  Dr. Rutherford is also investigating crushing of offshore calcareous sands. As more renewable energy developments move further offshore, areas around the world with calcareous sands need guidance in how to install offshore foundations such as piles in these crushable and brittle materials.


  • 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

Summary of Impacts on Research

  • Generated over $3.43 million ($1.3M as PI, $2.13M as Co-PI) funding to support her research from federal, state, local and industry sources as a principal and co-principal investigator.
  • Recipient of the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award titled: “CAREER: Experimental Modeling of Tidal Current Turbine Foundations: An Integrated Research and Education Plan.”
  • Authored 62 peer-reviewed publications in journals, peer-reviewed conferences proceedings and reports. Thirteen papers are currently under review at the top peer-reviewed journals.
  • Contributed to 37 invited talks, television interviews, radio interviews, news articles and podcasts.
  • Led Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance (GEER) team during Midwest flooding in 2016.
  • Collaborated with over 46 individuals from the CCEE department, across ISU campus, in industry and other universities both nationally and internationally.

Summary of Impacts on Mentoring and Teaching

  • Advised a diverse group of students including 7 Doctoral (6 graduated), 13 Masters (11 graduated), and 22 undergraduate students (19 graduated).
  • Served on 19 graduate student committees.
  • Mentored 3 doctoral students in the ISU Preparing Future Faculty program.
  • Recipient of the Joseph C. and Elizabeth A. Anderlik Faculty Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching from the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering at Iowa State University in 2019.
  • Mentor and assistant mentor for the American Society of Civil Engineers Excellence in Civil Engineering Education (ExCEEd) workshop from 2013-2021.
  • Created Fundamentals of Engineering Exam Geotechnical Engineering review document with online videos to help ISU CCEE students prepare for exam.
  • Re-established the graduate student seminar for geotechnical and materials engineering (CE 581) in 2017.

Summary on Impacts on Institutional and Professional Service

  • Served on department committees including Chair of the Student Recruitment Committee, CCEE Geotechnical Engineering search committee (three different committees), CCEE Construction Engineering search committee, CCEE Environmental Engineering search committee, CCEE Environmental Health and Safety committee, CCEE Promotion and Tenure Review Committee, and CCEE Space and lab cost recovery subcommittee.
  • Served as Graduate Advisor for Geotechnical and Material group (2017-2020).
  • Served as co-advisor for the Geo-Institute (GI) Student Chapter (2019-present).
  • Served on the College of Engineering United Way committee and organized 2 full day fundraisers and over 12 bake sales (2017-2019).
  • Served on 10 NSF panel reviews (2012-2020).
  • Elected to the board of the United States Universities Council on Geotechnical Education and Research (USUCGER), served as secretary (2017-2020).
  • Program technical co-chair of the Deep Foundations Institute DFI44 (2019).
  • Served on Governor Reynold’s Blue-Ribbon Committee on Flooding, Infrastructure and Levee committee (2019-2020).
  • Board of Editors, Deep Foundations Institute (DFI) Journal (2021 – present).
  • Chair, DFI Young member and Student paper competition (2022).
  • Chair, GI Student Participation committee which organizes all GeoChallenges at annual GI conferences (Geo-Wall, Geo-Poster, Geo-Video, Geo-Prediction, and Geo-Shirt). (2020-present).

Summary on Impacts on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity

  • Co-organizer of the CCEE GyGrad Recruitment Weekend focusing on recruitment of underrepresented students (2018 – present).
  • STEAM organizer Nevada Central Elementary encouraging students from diverse backgrounds to consider engineering as a career (2018-present).
  • Participated in f2f: Faculty-to-Faculty Mentoring Dialogues program through the Midwest Experiences in Mentoring Excellence with sessions specifically on diversity, equity, and inclusivity (2022).
  • Initiated CCEE Mentoring Program for undergraduate students, faculty, alumni, and industry partners (2022).


(16) Fedakar, H. I., Cetin, B. and Rutherford, C. J. “Deformation characteristics of medium-dense sand-clay mixtures under a principal stress rotation.” Transportation Geotechnics, Vol. 30,  DOI: 10.1016/j.trgeo.2021.100616, (2021).

(15) Fedakar, H. I., Cetin, B. and Rutherford, C. J. “Effect of principal stress rotation on deformation behavior of dense sand-clay mixtures.” Road Materials and Pavement Design., (2021).

(14) Yang, T., Men, Y.. Rutherford, C. J. and Zhang, Z. “Static and Dynamic Response of Micropiles Used for Reinforcing Slopes.” Applied Sciences, 11(14),, (2021).

(13) Dickey, L. C.+, McEachran, A. R., Rutherford, C. J., Rehmann, C. R., Perez, M., Groh, T. A. and T..M. Isenhart, “Slope Stability of Streambanks at Saturated Riparian Buffer Sites” Journal of Environmental Quality, (, (2021).

(12) McEachran, A. R. +, Dickey, L. +, Rehmann, C. R., Groh, T. A., Isenhart, T. M., Perez, M.A, Rutherford, C. J, “Improving the effectiveness of saturated riparian buffers for removing nitrate from subsurface driainage” Journal of Environmental Quality, Vol. 49, 6 (2020),

(11) Cerna-Diaz, A. +, Olson, S.M., Hashash, Y.M.A., Nymanoglu, O.A. +, Rutherford, C.J., Bhaumik, L. + Weaver, T., “Response of Sands to Multidirectional Dynamic Loading in Centrifuge Tests,” Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, Vol. 146, 10 (2020),

(10) Bhaumik, L.+, Rutherford, C. J., Olson, S. M., Hashash, Y. M. A., Cerna-Diaz, A.+, Numanoglu, O. A.+, and T. Weaver, “Effect of Specimen Preparation on Volumetric Behavior of Sands under Cyclic Multidirectional Shear”, Geotechnical Testing Journal, Vol. 53, 5 (2020), 1101-1119.

(9) Tucker-Kulesza, S. Rutherford, C. J. and M. Bernhardt-Barry, “Electrical Resistivity at Internal Erosion Locations in Levees”, International Journal of Geoengineering Case Histories. p.55-69. DOI: 10.4417/IJGCH-05-02-01. (2019).

(8) Taukoor, V.+, Wallace, J. F.+, Rutherford, C. J., Bernhard, B. B., Hodder, M. S. and D. J. White, “Modelling the degradation of penetration resistance during cyclic T-bar tests in a Gulf of Mexico clay”, Soils and Foundations. DOI: 10.1016/j.sandf.2019.07.001. (2019).

(7) Wallace, J. F.+ and C. J. Rutherford, “Comparison of Laboratory Bench Scale, Centrifuge, and Numerical Models of Suction Caissons in Soft Clay for Tidal Current Turbine Applications”, ASCE Geotechnical Special Publication, Innovations in Geotechnical Engineering. DOI: 10.1061/9780784481639.012. (2018).

(6) Wallace, J. F.+ and C. J. Rutherford, “Response of Vertical Cyclic Loading of Suction Caissons in Soft Clays”, Canadian Geotechnical Journal, DOI: 10.1139/cgj-2016-0133. (2017).

(5) Taukoor, V.+ and C. J. Rutherford, “Displacement rate effects during T-bar cycling in remoulded Gulf of Mexico clay”, Géotechnique. 1-5. DOI:10.1680/jgeot.16.P.078 (2016).

(4) Wallace, J.F.+ and C. J. Rutherford, “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 J. M. Peschel, “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).

(2) Rutherford, C. J.# and G. Biscontin, “Development of a Multi-directional Simple Shear Testing Device”, Geotechnical Testing Journal, Vol. 36, No. 6, 1-10. DOI: 10.1520/GTJ20120173. (2013).

(1) Rutherford, C.J.#, Biscontin, G., Koutsoftas, D. and J. L. Briaud, “Design Process of Deep Soil Mixed Walls for Excavation Support”, International Journal of Geoengineering Case histories, Vol.1, Issue 2, p.56-72. (2007).

#  Denotes any publication derived from thesis/dissertation. +  Denotes student co-author.