The International Information Center for Geotechnical Engineers

Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:00

Jerry Yamamuro (1954-2010)


Dear Geotechnical Colleagues:

It is with much sadness that I convey that Jerry Yamamuro died on August 18, 2010, just short of 56 years old, after having suffered from diabetes and associated diseases for many years. Jerry did not complain, but his associated diseases were never really diagnosed although he was the subject of many hospitalizations, medical examinations and experimentations.

I have been working with Jerry for many years as advisor for his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees; he has been a Postdoctoral Fellow with me for two years, first at UCLA and then at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and we continued to cooperate over the years. I knew him well, both in terms of his professional competence and in terms of his personal qualities.

Following his Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from Oregon State University, Jerry worked for nine years as a civil engineer for the Forest Service in Oregon. He came to UCLA as a graduate student in the area of Structures, in which his background was excellent, and he took the majority of graduate courses offered in Structures at UCLA. However, he developed an interest in and also took all the graduate courses Geotechnical Engineering. For the M.S.-degree he designed and assembled an automated high pressure triaxial loading system consisting of a 100 ton loading machine with a 10,000 psi (67 MPa) triaxial cell. This project succeeded only with the help of Jerry's expertise, tenacity, and hard work. Jerry put together the equipment, built the necessary electronic converters, wrote all the control programs, made it work, and explained it all in his M.S. thesis.

This equipment was used for his Ph.D.-research to study the stress-strain behavior and the conditions for instability of granular materials at high pressures. He conducted a program of carefully performed and well thought out experiments that resulted in considerable insight into the behavior of granular materials at high pressures.

After he finished his Ph.D. in March of 1993 at UCLA, he continued as a Postdoc and he moved with me to The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in July of 1993. One of the discoveries made at the time was that liquefaction of granular materials is initiated due to a condition of instability inside the failure surface. This resulted in renewed interest in liquefaction, and after coming to Hopkins, Jerry carried out a program of research to study liquefaction under static loading conditions. New and very surprising findings emerged from these experiments, namely that liquefaction is a low pressure phenomenon and that loose silty sands exhibit ‘reverse’ stress-strain behavior due to its high compressibility.

Jerry was hired from July 1, 1995 in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Clarkson University. He continued his stellar performance there: He received a CAREER grant from NSF to continue the studies of static liquefaction. Over the years he obtained most of his research funding from NSF and AFOSR. He also demonstrated his ability to teach well, and he was very much liked by the students. He received a teaching award for his performance in the undergraduate foundation engineering course in 1996, and he was recipient of the Albert D. Merrill Award as the Outstanding Civil and Environmental Engineering Faculty in 1997-1998. He also got involved with ASCE at the national level, where he was an active member of technical committees. He was organizer or co-organizer of a number of sessions at various conferences, and he edited the proceedings of many conferences and special publications.

Jerry moved to University of Delaware in the fall of 1999, where he spent 5 years before he, in the fall of 2004, moved back to his Alma Mater, Oregon State University, where he was Associate Professor.

Jerry was an enthusiastic individual whose interest, hard work, and considerable skills in experimental and analytical research served him well. He was a competent and thorough researcher who could synthesize knowledge from a variety of sources, and he was highly motivated, dependable, and hard working. Jerry authored or co-authored over 40 journal papers and 40 conference papers, some of which are still to be published.

While working on his own experiments for his Ph.D. at UCLA, Jerry and I also cooperated on several other experimental investigations of topics that came up. Our friendship was based on mutual respect and trust, and we have continued to cooperate on research resulting in some 25 journal publications and 15 conference papers. On the personal side, Jerry was reliable and loyal. He willingly helped with anything necessary. He was well informed and had a mature perception of topics from politics to morals. He kept up with the latest novels, and he had a considerable collection of classical movies on video tapes and DVDs. He was a Ken Burns documentary fan and once corresponded with Mr. Burns, which led to an appearance in a PBS promotion spot. Jerry Yamamuro was a third generation Japanese-American with emphasis on American. He was a delight to work with and to be around. I will miss him greatly!

Jerry is survived by his two brothers, Nick and Bob, and his sister, Linda, and her husband, Ronald, and their two daughters, Jana and Kira, and a former wife, Betsy.

The above email was sent by Prof. Poul Lade, Department of Civil Engineering, The Catholic University of America



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