People

Laura Powers

Principal Petrographer & Materials Scientist


Connect
Location
SKOKIE, IL

Downloads
Resume
Focus
  • Microscopy + Petrography

Biography

Ms. Powers excels in evaluating construction and geological materials using polarized-light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy with x-ray spectroscopy, electron probe microanalysis, x-ray fluorescence, x-ray diffraction, and other investigative methods. She has coordinated and conducted numerous field and laboratory investigations of materials behavior and condition, and has provided expert testimony in numerous litigation cases. Her principal focus lies in assessing the performance of existing, historic, and new construction through detailed analysis of compositional and microstructural characteristics. Materials examined include concrete, mortar, stucco, terrazzo, dimension stone, fired and unfired clay products, gypsum-based products, refractories and fireproofing, decorative and protective coatings, and more.

Ms. Powers has participated in research to promote understanding of diverse topics that include: internal curing of concrete; autogenous shrinkage of high-performance concrete; sequestration of biohazardous and low-level radioactive substances in cementitious systems; radionuclide migration in concrete; performance of concrete in aggressive environments; the effects of sudden and prolonged heating on concrete and masonry; shotcrete quality and performance; stability of concrete in a simulated lunar environment; process influences on portland cement clinker; the effects of natural weathering on building stone, laser ablation cleaning of stone; and distress mechanisms such as delayed ettringite formation, sulfate attack, alkali-aggregate reactions, and chemical attack. She publishes and presents her work at conferences and other venues, and is a staff mentor.

Education

M.S. in Geology from University of Saskatchewan – Saskatoon, Canada, 1985

B.S. in Geology from University of Massachusetts – Amherst, 1977

Affiliations

  • American Concrete Institute
  • Association for Preservation Technology Western Great Lakes Chapter (APTWGLC)
  • ASTM International
  • Geological Society of America
  • Mineralogical Society of America
  • National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • Society of Concrete Petrographers
  • State Microscopical Society of Illinois

Featured Publications

Hou, Xiaoqiang, Powers, Laura, Lawler, John, Tureyen, Koray, 2015. Thaumasite Sulfate Attack: Case Studies and Implications, Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Cement Microscopy, ICMA, Seattle, Washington.

Golovich, E. C., Mattigod, S. V., Snyder, M. M. V., Powers, L. J., Whyatt, G. A., and Wellman, D. M., 2014. Radionuclide Migration through Sediment and Concrete: 16 Years of Investigations, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory report to U. S. Department of Energy, National Technical Information Service, November.

Walloch, Craig, Speck, Jeff, and Powers, Laura, 2014. Effect of Internal Curing on Freeze-Thaw Durability of Dry-Cast Concrete Segmental Retaining Wall Units and Solid Interlocking Concrete Paving Units, ASTM STP 1577, 29 p.