Shunsuke Sakurai (PhD Civ Egr ’66), professor emeritus of Kobe University and Hiroshima Institute of Technology in Japan, began his graduate studies at MSU 50 years ago as a Fulbright exchange student from Japan. His thesis was related to high-level radioactive waste disposal in rock salt. His thesis adviser was the late Shosei Serata, a longtime professor in the department. "I learned a lot about applied mechanics, particularly rock mechanics, during my studies at MSU," says Sakurai via e-mail.
That beginning at MSU was a major force in his long career. Sakurai returned to Japan after obtaining his PhD and joined Kobe University as an assistant professor of structural mechanics in the civil engineering department. He became a full professor at Kobe in 1974. Sakurai continued with research in the area of rock mechanics and was involved in various rock mechanics projects not only in Japan, but also in other countries.
Because of his work with the International Society of Rock Mechanics (ISRM), Sakurai became an ISRM Fellow, part of a group of eight who were the first fellows of the society. He officially retired from Kobe University in 1999, but continued with many activities including four years as the president of Hiroshima Institute of Technology in Hiroshima, Japan. In 2003 he went back to Kobe University and worked as president of the Construction Engineering Research Institute Foundation. In 2011 he was awarded what Sakurai says is his "greatest honor;" he was the recipient of the Order of the Sacred Treasure from the Japanese emperor for his long-term contributions to research and education in the rock mechanics community.
"More than 45 years have passed since I graduated from MSU, and I am pleased to say that I was able to contribute to the further development of rock mechanics," says Sakurai, "I am confident that my successful contributions are surely due to my excellent education received at MSU. I would like to thank Dr. Serata, my guidance committee members, and all other professors who taught me, for their kind guidance. My thanks are also due to friends in East Lansing who supported me during my stay."