Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Environmental Engr. (M.S.E.V.)

Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

James Mihelcic, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Maya Trotz, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Christopher Alexander, Ph.D.


earth construction, earth technologies, natural pozzolans, sustainable development


As climate change threatens vulnerable tropical climates and development outpaces resource availability, the need for diverse construction material grows. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals aim to reduce poverty in all forms. Diversifying construction material works toward reducing indoor air pollution, the eradication of houselessness, encouraging diversification in industry, and supporting small scale industrialization. In the Province of Bocas del Toro in Panama, there is a tenuous connection to the greater industries in the country due to location and existing infrastructure.This research presents a literature review of the historical approaches to the construction and chemistry of cement stabilized earth bricks, current soil conditions in Bocas del Toro, and chemical and mineralogical information on insect nest soil as a construction material additive. There are gaps in existing research concerning the Panamanian leaf cutter ant and the nest material behavior. Therefore, this study proposes an experimental procedure to investigate the mineralogical characteristics of the ant nest soil and behavior as a stabilizer in a cement stabilized earth brick.