In Memoriam: Mladen Vucetic

We are saddened to report that Professor Mladen Vucetic passed away on October 4, 2023 in Los Angeles, CA. Mladen was a civil engineer with an international reputation in soil dynamics and a mentor to many undergraduate and graduate students in his 31-year academic career.

Mladen received his bachelors and masters degrees in civil engineering from the University of Zagreb, Croatia in 1976 and 1981, respectively. He completed his doctoral work at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute under the tutelage of renowned Professor Ricardo Dobry in 1986. His PhD dissertation was titled Pore pressure buildup and liquefaction at level sandy sites during earthquakes.

Mladen joined UCLA in 1987 as an Assistant Professor, advancing to Associate Professor with tenure in 1993, and full Professor in 2000. He retired from the active faculty in 2018.

Mladen taught many courses over his academic career, but was perhaps best known for two undergraduate courses (CEE 120 Introduction to Geotechnical Engineering, CEE 128L Soil Mechanics Laboratory) and two graduate courses (CEE 222 Soil Dynamics, CEE 224 Advanced Cyclic and Monotonic Soil Behavior). These courses inspired countless UCLA students over three decades.  

Mladen's research passions were to improve fundamental understanding of soil responses to dynamic loading, such as applied by earthquake shaking. Working with Professor Dobry and Mladen's students and collaborators, he significantly advanced understanding of how stiffness and energy dissipation characteristics vary among different soil types. He also made important contributions to understanding of the deformations required to induce nonlinear soil response. His work in these and other areas was presented in a series of highly-impactful articles that continue to be routinely cited and applied in Geotechnical Engineering research and practice.

Mladen advised 8 doctoral students during his career, each of whom have gone on to successful careers in geotechnical engineering industry, academia, or research laboratories.

Mladen was an active contributor to professional societies, including the Croatian Geotechnical Society (CGS) and the ASCE Geo-Institute. In the CGS, he is remembered for his long-time support and for his 2014-year Nonveiller Lecture, which he gave in Zagreb in honor of Professor Ervin Nonveiller. In the Geo-Institute, he served as a member and chair of the Los Angeles Section Geotechnical group, which is among the most active in the United States.

Professor Mladen Vucetic is remembered as an innovative geotechnical engineer, a demanding and dedicated teacher, and a colleague committed to UCLA, his profession, his students, and his family. He is survived by his wife Lana Vucetic, daughter Sonia Vucetic, and son Alan Vucetic.