Academy of Distinguished Alumni

Lelio Mejia

Lelio Mejia Ph.D., P.E., G.E., N.A.E.

Inducted to the Academy of Distinguished Alumni on

Lelio Mejia received his Ph.D. (1981) and M.S. degree (1978) in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. His graduate school focus was in geotechnical earthquake engineering. He also received a B.S. degree (1977) from Universidad Javeriana in Bogota, Colombia. Since graduation, Dr. Mejia has worked his entire career as a consulting geotechnical earthquake engineer in the San Francisco Bay Area, first with Harding Lawson Associates, then with AECOM (and legacy companies URS and Woodward Clyde Consultants) for more than 30 years, and most recently with Geosyntec Consultants where he is a senior principal and technical practice leader.

Dr. Mejia is an international leader in geotechnical earthquake engineering. He has directed numerous seismic stability and design studies of major earth structures and he has extensive experience in soil liquefaction and the use of ground treatment methods to mitigate the effects of liquefaction. He has worked on the safety evaluation of more than 25 large earth and concrete dams, and he has led or been involved in the design and construction of more than 15 major embankment dams, including Oroville (770-feet tall), Stone Canyon (250-feet tall), Anderson (240-feet tall), Los Vaqueros (230-feet tall), Upper San Leandro (200-feet tall), and Lopez (200-feet tall), all in California. He also served as the engineer-of-record for the design of Borinquen Dam (1.5-miles long, 100-feet tall), a principal component of the Panama Canal Expansion.

Dr. Mejia is very active in the profession, serving in leadership committee positions and authoring approximately 100 technical journal and conference papers. Presently, he serves as Chair of the Earthquake Engineering Committee of the U.S. Society of Dams (USSD) and U.S. Delegate to the Committee on Seismic Aspects of Dam Design for the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD). Recently, he served on the National Research Council (NRC) Committee on the State of the Art and Practice in Earthquake Induced Soil Liquefaction and as Chair of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Governance Board for the George E. Brown Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES). In 2018, he was appointed to the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) Independent Review Board (IRB) for Oroville Dam. Dr. Mejia was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in 2020.

Dr. Mejia has been a long-time supporter of Berkeley CEE. Over the years, he has been a frequent guest lecturer for seminars and courses within the geotechnical engineering program. From 1986 to 1997, he was an instructor on earthquake engineering and soil dynamics for the U.C. Berkeley Extension course "Soil and Foundation Engineering." From 2002 to 2007, he was an instructor for the U.C. Berkeley Extension Course "Geotechnical Engineering." He was a Berkeley CEE Geoengineering Distinguished Lecturer in 2010.