Faculty Profiles

John S. McCartney

Assoc Professor, Structural Engineering




Thermo-hydro-mechanical behavior of soils; design and analysis of thermally active geotechnical systems (energy foundations);  mechanical and hydraulic interaction between unsaturated soils and geosynthetics; centrifuge modeling of geotechnical systems involving unsaturated soils; design and characterization of alternative landfill cover systems; shear strength of geosynthetic clay liners (GCLs); and reliability-based design in geotechnical engineering.

McCartney's fundamental research in Geotechnical Engineering and Geomechanics is focused on characterization of the constitutive relationships governing interactions between thermal, hydraulic, and mechanical processes in unsaturated soils, buried structures, and geosynthetics. The specific goals of McCartney's research are to: (a) solve new problems encountered when using the subsurface and geotechnical engineering systems (foundations, retaining walls, landfills) as thermal resources; (b) explore the dynamic response of unsaturated soils during surface vibrations or earthquake shaking; (b) investigate performance-based design strategies involving unsaturated soil mechanics which enable more efficient use of materials in geotechnical systems; and (c) understand  how geosynthetic reinforcements can be used to improve the efficiency and sustainability of geotechnical systems. The overall vision McCartney's research group is to lead the geotechnical engineering community toward these goals by developing simple understandings of complex phenomena through physical modeling of geotechnical systems, novel element scale testing, innovative sensors, and monitoring of full-scale systems in the field (landfill covers, pavements, and foundations). These tools are used to develop or validate constitutive models which can be used in numerical simulations.

Capsule Bio:

Before joining the UC San Diego faculty, John S. McCartney was an associate professor and Lyall faculty fellow at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has received several research awards, including the ASCE Casagrande award in 2013, NSF Faculty Early Development (CAREER) Award in 2011, the J. James R. Croes medal from ASCE in 2012, the DFI Young Professor Award in 2012, and the Young IGS Award from the International Geosynthetics Society in 2008. His teaching efforts were recognized by the 2012 Shamsher Prakash Prize for Excellence in Teaching of Geotechnical Engineering. For his service on ASTM Committee D18 on Soil and Rock, he has received the President’s Leadership Award in 2013 and the Richard S. Ladd D18 Standards Development Award in 2011. He is active on the editorial boards for ASCE Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering (JGGE), ASTM Geotechnical Testing Journal (GTJ), Computers and Geotechnics, Geosynthetics International, and Soils and Foundations. He received BSCE and MSCE degrees from the University of Colorado Boulder and a Ph.D. degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

Selected Publications:

Google Scholar Publications

John McCartney
Office Phone:
858-534-9630


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