Rosakis received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from Oxford University and his ScM and PhD degrees from Brown University. He joined the California Institute of Technology as an assistant professor in 1982. In 2004, was named the Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering. 2004-2009, he served as the 5th Director of the historic Graduate Aerospace Laboratories (GALCIT) formerly, known as Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratories. 2009 to 2015, he served as the Chair (Dean) of the Division of Engineering & Applied Science, and held the F. Otis Booth Leadership Chair, 2013-2015.

Member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (Academia Scientiarum et Artium Europaea) and of the Academia Europaea. He is a Foreign Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering, Corresponding Member of the Academy of Athens and was made Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the French Republic.

Rosakis holds multiple awards and medals from the Society of Experimental Mechanics (SEM), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the Society of Engineering Science (SES), and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

Research Interests

Rosakis is an expert in static and dynamic failure mechanics of solid materials at all length and time scales. Earlier work includes the study of dynamic, failure (cracking, debonding, and adiabatic localization) of structural metals and brittle materials, as well as the shear rupture of bonded heterogeneous solids and composites, by using high speed photography and infrared thermography. In 1999, Rosakis introduced the concept of "Laboratory Earthquakes" and developed a unique, highly instrumented, laboratory facility, which reproduces the physics governing rupture dynamics of crustal earthquakes. His additional experimental discovery of "super-shear", frictional rupture speeds has revolutionized the way earthquake events are interpreted, validating inferences of super-shear growth in many sufficiently large earthquakes, which resulted in improved understanding of zones of intense ground motion damage. His laboratory discoveries and modeling have also helped resolve a number of additional cutting-edge problems in earthquake source physics, including the directionality of rupture growth in heterogeneous faults, the mechanism of creation of off-fault damage and the selection between "pulse-like" or "crack-like" modes in earthquake slip. Additional research interests include the reliability of thin-films and in-situ wafer metrology, as well as hypervelocity impact phenomena for the study of micrometeorite threats on space structures.

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Primary Section

Section 31: Engineering Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 15: Geology