Virginia Tech professor emeritus receives national honor for work in geotechnical engineering
James Mitchell of Blacksburg, the Virginia Tech Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has been selected by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Geo-Institute to receive the 2004 H. Bolton Seed Medal.
The Bolton Medal recognizes outstanding contributions to teaching, research, and/or practice in geotechnical engineering. Mitchell is cited for his numerous and broad contributions to the fundamental understanding and professional practice of geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering.
Mitchell's research on the engineering properties and behavior of soils has found wide applications in the field of environmental geotechnics, which deals with waste containment and contaminated site remediation. His extensive research on soil stabilization and ground strengthening has been used to mitigate ground failure risk during earthquakes. He participated in post-earthquake reconnaissance and ground performance studies following the major earthquakes in San Francisco in 1989; Kobe, Japan in 1994; and Turkey in 1999.
In 1997, Mitchell and two other Virginia Tech engineering faculty were part of a national team that received a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation to find ways to minimize earthquake damage and losses in the nation.
Mitchell, who was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1976, joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 1994 as the first Charles E. Via Jr. Professor of Civil Engineering. He came to Tech from the University of California at Berkeley, where he held an endowed chair in civil engineering and conducted research at both the Institute of Transportation Studies and the Earthquake Engineering Research Center. Mitchell had been on the Berkeley faculty since 1958, after receiving his Sc.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1956 and serving on active duty in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
In 1996, Mitchell was named a University Distinguished Professor by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, and in 1998, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He is a fellow and honorary member of ASCE and a former chairman of the Geotechnical Board of the U.S. National Research Council.
Mitchell retired from the Virginia Tech faculty in 1999 and was appointed professor emeritus by the university's board of visitors. He continues to conduct research at the university.