Academy of Distinguished Alumni

I.M. Idriss

Izzat M. (Ed) Idriss Ph.D., P.E., G.E., N.A.E.

Inducted to the Academy of Distinguished Alumni on

Ed Idriss received his Ph.D. (1966) in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. His graduate school focus was in geotechnical earthquake engineering. He also received an M.S. degree (1959) in Civil Engineering from Caltech and B.S. degree (1958) from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. For 20 years after graduation he worked at the international consulting firm Woodward-Clyde Consultants, rising to the position of Senior Principal and Vice President while building the world’s leading geotechnical earthquake engineering consulting team. From 1989 until 2004, he was a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Davis, becoming Professor Emeritus in 2004, a position he still holds.

Prof. Idriss is an internationally-recognized leader in the field of geotechnical earthquake engineering. He developed or co-developed many of the procedures used in the profession today for evaluating the behavior of sites and soil structures during earthquakes. These include methods for evaluating: the characteristics of earthquake ground motions; seismic response of sites; potential for soil liquefaction; performance of embankment dams during earthquakes; and soil-structure interaction in response to earthquake shaking.  He has been involved in post-earthquake investigations of ten major earthquakes throughout the world, beginning with the 1964 Great Alaska earthquake.  In addition to his involvement in research studies, he has guided site-specific studies for numerous major projects in the United States and other countries, and he has served on consulting and review boards for many local, state, and federal agencies. Through this body of work over the past 55 years, he has played a major role in the development of the state-of-knowledge and state-of-practice in modern geotechnical earthquake engineering. 

Prof. Idriss has been widely recognized by the profession for his career accomplishments. From the American Society of Civil Engineers, he has been awarded the Norman Medal (1977), H. Bolton Seed Medal (1995), Distinguished Member status (2008), and Ralph B. Peck Award (2010). He was selected to give the Ishihara Lecture (2008) by the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering. He was elected an Honorary Member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (2008) and an Honorary Member of the Japanese Geotechnical Society (2005). Prof. Idriss was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering in 1989.

Prof. Idriss has a long history of support for Berkeley CEE. He was a full-time member (1967-1968) and part-time member (1968-1975) of the Berkeley geotechnical group, teaching undergraduate courses, conducting research, and supervising the research of doctoral students at that time.  He has collaborated with CEE faculty since then, teaching several courses, and giving numerous lectures.  He has also been an active supporter of the U.C. Berkeley Alumni Association.