Earthquake expert Stephen Mahin passes away at 71

Stephen Mahin headshot

Professor Emeritus Stephen Mahin (Photo by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering).

Stephen A. Mahin, a world-renowned expert in earthquake engineering and professor emeritus at UC Berkeley, passed away on February 10 at the age of 71. Mahin was a popular teacher and researcher whose career included major contributions to the seismic safety of large structures such as bridges, electrical power facilities and highrise buildings.

Mahin was often quoted in the news on the design of structures, seismic isolation of bridges and buildings and the laboratory testing of how structures respond to ground-shaking. He oversaw experiments on a shake table — an earthquake simulator that shakes real buildings — that were the largest of their kind. In 2011, he traveled to Japan to study the impact of the damage from the 9.0 magnitude Tohoku earthquake and ensuing tsunami. 

Mahin, a California native, earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Berkeley. He worked as an assistant research engineer on campus before joining the faculty as assistant professor in 1977. Highlights of his nearly 50-year career at Berkeley include serving as chair of the Structural Engineering, Mechanics, and Materials Program and as director of the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center from 2009-2015.

In this 2010 video, Stephen Mahin, Director of the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, headquartered at UC Berkeley, demonstrates the test of a new bridge design, intended to help bridge construction resist significant damage during earthquakes
Read more on the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center's website.