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University of California Berkeley

University of California Berkeley
Civil and Environmental Engineering Department

GeoSystems (Geoengineering) Group  

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Prof. Kenichi Soga, FICE FREng

Chancellor’s Professor

Kenichi Soga is Chancellor’s Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He obtained his BEng and MEng from Kyoto University in Japan and PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. He was Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Cambridge before joining UC Berkeley in 2016. He has published more than 350 journal and conference papers and is co-author of “Fundamentals of Soil Behavior, 3rd edition” with Professor James K Mitchell. His current research activities are Infrastructure sensing, Performance based design and maintenance of underground structures, Energy geotechnics, and Geotechnics from micro to macro. He is a Fellow of the UK Royal Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He is recipient of many awards including George Stephenson Medal and Telford Gold Medal from the Institution of Civil Engineers and Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Dr. James Fern


James graduated from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, in 2009 with a BSc and in 2011 with an MSc. He then worked for a year as a consultant designing caverns and tunnels for hydroelectric power schemes before undertaking a PhD. at the University of Cambridge. His doctoral work focused on the mechanics of unsaturated sand, its constitutive modelling and its application to large deformation simulation of granular flows. During his PhD, James was seconded to Deltares, the Netherlands, in the frame of the EU Marie Curie MPM-Dredge project. He graduated in 2016 and returned to industry, where he applied his knowledge and skills in computational geomechanics. He worked on the design of the High Luminosity Project at CERN as well as carried out a series of numerical simulation for the construction of metro tunnels.

James is currently a research associate at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is working on the numerical modelling of the slope failures. He is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation to carry out MPM simulations of slope failures in partnership with the MPM Research Community.

Dr. Jorge Macedo Escudero


Jorge Macedo is a Civil Engineer with main expertise in numerical modeling, geotechnical earthquake engineering, and waste management. In the last years, Mr. Macedo has been involved with the study of the seismic response of earth/waste geotechnical systems and soil-structure interaction with the presence of liquefiable soils. Mr. Macedo has also been involved in major mining projects in South America (Peru, Brazil, and Argentina); projects that go from due-diligence and basic engineering to detailed engineering design. Currently, Mr. Macedo is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California Berkeley in the Geoengineering department, and his current interest is the use of the Material Point Method to numerically simulate the cone penetration test (CPT) to characterize better the in-situ state of sandy and silty potentially liquefiable soils.

John W. Murhpy, P.E.

PhD student

John graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Platteville in 2006 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. He worked for eight years for the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) - Saint Paul District in the Geotechnical Engineering Branch. His work at the Saint Paul District focused on Dam and Levee Safety. He graduated an M.S. in Geoengineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 2013 during a leave of absence from the USACE. In 2015, John transferred to the US Army Engineering Research and Development Center (ERDC) Geotechnical Structures Laboratory (GSL) in Vicksburg, Mississippi. In the two years as a Research Civil Engineer for the ERDC-GSL, he has researched Internal Erosion beneath Dams and Levees and rapid Pile Repairs technologies. In 2016, John received a Graduate Certificate in Risk Management from the Notre Dame of Maryland University. John is a registered Professional Engineer in Minnesota.

John is currently a first year PhD Student at the University of California, Berkeley. He was selected as a member of the ERDC Long Term Training Program for the 2017-2018 Academic Year.

Xiaorong Xu

PhD student

Xiaorong majored in hydraulic engineering and graduated from Wuhan University, China, in 2013. She is currently a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. Her doctoral work focuses on the experimental and numerical simulation research of granular flows, and its application to the three-dimensional modelling of realistic landslide—Hongshiyan landslide, which happened in August, 2014 in Southern China. She worked on the MPM code developed by C++ in Tsinghua to solve this kind of large deformation problems. She is under the supervisors of Professor Feng Jin and Professor Qicheng Sun.

Xiaorong’s current research interest is the modeling and numerical simulations of wheel rotation problems using the material point method code Anura 3D.