Erik Vanmarcke received his doctorate in civil engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1970 and, upon graduation, he joined the MIT faculty. He remained at MIT until 1985, when he joined the Princeton faculty at the rank of professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and Operations Research. At Princeton, Erik has explored a broad and diverse field of research interests, including random fields and random media, risk assessment and management, seismic risk and earthquake ground motions, hurricanes and coastal hazards, dam safety, structural reliability, random vibrations, energy density fluctuations in the early universe, and the formation of the cosmic structure.
Throughout his career and intellectual explorations, Erik has had a rich and rewarding academic life. He has held visiting appointments at Harvard University, the Delft University of Technology (Holland), and the University of Leuven in his native Belgium. He has also held the Shimizu Corporation Visiting Professorship at Stanford University and the Kwang-hua Visiting Professorship at Tongji University in Shanghai. He was the founding editor of the international journal Structural Safety and he has been awarded the Raymond C. Reese and Walter Huber research prizes of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), as well as the Distinguished Probabilistic Methods Educator Award of the Society of Automotive Engineers. He received a Senior Visiting Scientist Award from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science and was elected member of the Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium. He chaired the Executive Committee of ASCE’s Council on Disaster Risk Management and committees on engineering risk assessment of the Geo-Institute of ASCE and the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute.
One of Erik’s most important contributions to the fields of science and engineering was the 1983 publication of Random Fields: Analysis and Synthesis, an introduction to random field theory across disciplines. A new and expanded edition was published in 2010 by World Scientific Publishing Company.
In 2012, ASCE awarded its Alfred M. Freudenthal Medal to Erik. He was honored for his work in developing computational models that are widely used by engineers for assessing the risks associated with random vibrations and uncertainties in material properties when protecting against earthquakes, wind, and other hazards.
Erik retires from Princeton and becomes professor of civil and environmental engineering emeritus. While at Princeton, he has been an affiliated faculty member in the Bendheim Center for Finance, Princeton Environmental Institute, and Princeton Institute for Science and Technology of Materials. Additionally, he has served as a member of the Academic Committee of the Program in Robotics and Intelligent Systems.