headshot of Ning Lu

Ning Lu, Ph.D., F.EMI, Dist.M.ASCE, the lauded professor of civil and environmental engineering at Colorado School of Mines, has been honored with inclusion by ASCE in its 2024 class of distinguished members for his seminal contributions to understanding soil behavior by generalizing effective stress and unifying pore water pressure for saturated and unsaturated porous media.

Lu is well-known internationally for his work on stresses in variably saturated porous media, and has contributed more to understanding the mechanics of such media than anyone over the past three decades. His primary research interest is to seek common threads among basic soil physical phenomena, including fluid flow, chemical transport, heat transfer, stress, and deformation. Lu pursues understanding of these phenomena at fundamental levels, including unifying atomic-scale potentials, interparticle forces, and engineering-scale stresses in soils.

He is an engaged civil engineering leader and a visionary scholar whose advances have been prolific and sustaining. Addressing a wide range of problems, his work enhances the safety and economy of civil engineering designs. He has been working on challenging engineering problems in chemical transport in clayey soil, underground nuclear waste isolation, residential house foundation damage by expansive clays, and, most recently, precipitation-induced shallow landslides.

Lu teaches regularly on mechanics and hydrology of variably saturated porous media with the textbook he co-authored, Unsaturated Soil Mechanics, used around the world as the gold standard in the field. He also teaches vadose zone hydrology and landslides with another co-authored textbook, Hillslope Hydrology and Stability. He has a host of other published material in technical journals and is editor of Vadose Zone Journal (Soil Science Society of America) and associate editor of Geotechnical Testing Journal.

He is the principal developer of computer code for simulating 3D, transient slope stress and stability in variable saturated hillslopes, co-created several methods and controls, and is co-founder and co-developer of the USGS’s Live Landslides Monitoring Network.

Besides his fellowships with ASCE and the Engineering Mechanics Institute, Lu is a lifetime member of the American Geophysical Union and a fellow of the Geological Society of America. He was a member of the Committee on Long-Term Management of the Spirit Lake/Toutle River System in Southwest Washington, 2016-2017, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Among his awards are ASCE’s Maurice Biot Medal and Ralph B. Peck Medal (both 2017), Practice Paper of the Year Award, ASTM (2016), and the ASCE J.J. Croes Medal (2010).

Lu earned his doctoral and master’s degrees in civil engineering at The Johns Hopkins University, and his bachelor's degree in geotechnical engineering at Wuhan University of Technology, China.

Lu’s mentoring legacy is exceptional, the fruits being seen in an assortment of younger stars now in mid-career or earlier stages.