I first took note of Prof. Mitchell and his work when I was an undergraduate engineering student, majoring in chemical engineering. I was at the time considering already shifting to civil engineering. In one my walks through the library, I ran across Prof. Mitchellâ€™s text on fundamentals of soil behavior. Being a chemical engineering student, I was drawn to the treatment of clay mineralogy and its reflection on how soils formed and behaved.
I was later, already as a civil engineering student, working as a part-time intern for a company that had just acquired a CPT rig, and that led me again to Prof. Mitchell, who was at the time doing cutting-edge research on cone penetration and the interpretation of CPT results. To make a long story short, when I was ready to choose a school and advisor to do my doctoral work with, Prof. Mitchell was at the top of the list. When I visited Berkeley, Prof. Mitchell struck me as professional, empathic and enthusiastic. After now knowing him for so many years, I think that first impression was on target, and he is one of the people I most admire.
My doctoral thesis was on the cone penetration test and its analysis and interpretation. Prof. Mitchell had started a collaboration with Prof. Michele Jamiolkowski, of the Technical University of Turin, and asked me to spend time in Italy working with Prof. Jamiolkowski on the calibration chamber testing program that was in progress in Italy. It was a tremendously exciting experience for a young researcher to be able to work with high-quality test data, and lots of it, under the tutelage of people working at the top of their game. We were able to make significant progress on how to compute cone resistance from soil state variables and intrinsic properties using cavity expansion theory and on how to correct for calibration chamber boundary effects, to name the two key contributions.
Already at Purdue, I worked with Prof. Mitchell on writing a number of papers out of the CPT work, most published in the ASCE Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering. Those were my first scientific papers, and writing them with Prof. Mitchell was the best way to learn how to write a good paper. His focus on what matters and on how to express it clearly were obvious as we got all of the writing done.
We have been fortunate at Purdue to have had Prof. Mitchell visit many times (some of the photos that I am making available are from those visits), one of which as a C.W. Lovell Distinguished Lecturer. He is a brilliant and enthusiastic speaker, and he truly enjoys learning what we and our students are doing for research as well as sharing what he is involved in, whether in research or consulting, at any point in time. I count myself lucky to have had Jim as an adviser and friend. Beyond being the ultimate academic and engineer, he is a man of integrity, common sense and kindness. I am grateful for all that he has taught me. In important matters, I have gone to him for advice, and could not have gotten better advice than what was given. In fact, one might do rather well by simply asking, before making a decision or doing anything important about life, career or people: â€œWhat would Jim Mitchell do in a situation like this?â€
Figure 1 Prof. Mitchell in panel discussion (Interdisciplinary Work:Â A Brave New World for Geotechnical Engineers?) during C.W. Lovell Lecture program (10/05/06)
Figure 2 Mitchell in panel discussion (Interdisciplinary Work: A Brave New World for Geotechnical Engineers?) during C.W. Lovell Lecture program (10/05/06)
Figure 3 Prof. Mitchell, Prof. Monica Prezzi and Prof. S. Thevanayagam in panel discussion (Interdisciplinary Work: A Brave New World for Geotechnical Engineers?) during C.W. Lovell Lecture program (10/05/06)
Figure 4 Profs. Mitchell, Thevanayagam and Salgado and Dr. P.D. Deoin potluck organized during C.W. Lovell Lecture (10/05/06)
Figure 5 Prof. Mitchell enjoying food prepared by graduate students in a potluck organized during the 6thÂ C.W. Lovell Distinguished Lecture (10/05/06)
Figure 6 Prof. Mitchell, with Prof. Monica Prezzi, enjoying food prepared by student in a potluck organized during the 6th C.W. Lovell Distinguished Lecture (10/05/06)
Figure 7 Prof. Mitchell with Prof. Prezzi (10/05/06)
Figure 8 Prof. Mitchell delivering the 6th Lovell Distinguished Lecture (10/05/06)
Figure 9 Prof. Mitchell delivering the 6th Lovell Distinguished Lecture(10/05/06)
Figure 10 Prof. Mitchell delivering the 6th Lovell Distinguished Lecture(10/05/06)
Figure 11 Prof. Mitchell delivering the 6th Lovell Distinguished Lecture (10/05/06)
Figure 12 Prof. Mitchell autographing his book for a student during reception of the 6th Lovell Distinguished Lecture series (10/05/06)
Figure 13 Dr. Zeynep Yildirim (then a student), Prof. Mitchell, Prof. Salgado and Ms. Julia Clarke and Dr. Yannis Zevgolis (both students at the time) in the reception for the 6th Lovell Distinguished Lecture series (10/05/06)
Figure 14 Prof. Mitchell with Prof. Salgado, Prof. Lovell, Mrs. Lovell and students in the reception of the 6th Lovell Distinguished Lecture series (10/05/06)
Figure 15 Prof. Mitchell with Prof. Prezzi in the reception for the 6th Lovell Distinguished Lecturer (10/05/06)
Figure 16 Prof. Mitchell with Mrs. Mitchell, Prof Salgado and Prof. Prezzi with students (Vibhav Bisht, Eshan Ganju, Fei Han, Ayda Galvis and Ruben Tovar) in the model pile testing facility at Bowen Labat Purdue (09/02/15)
Figure 17 Professor James K. Mitchell giving a lecture on risk mitigation strategies and the importance of correct soil and site characterization, entitled Â “Lessons from the lives of two dams” (09/03/15), Purdue
Figure 18 Professor James K. Mitchell (right to left), Prof. Rodrigo Salgado, Prof. Roman HryciwÂ and student in the background talking about CPT and more after Prof. Salgadoâ€™s keynote on â€œExperimental research on cone penetration resistanceâ€ in Geo-Congress 2014 (02/2014) in Atlanta.