Dr James D Murff, or ‘Don’ as he prefers to be called, was born in 1941 in Houston, Texas, and raised in West University Place when it was a small bedroom community on the outskirts of town. In 1963 he obtained a Bachelor of Science and Engineering from the US Military Academy at West Point. He joined the US Army Corps of Engineers and served in Texas, Panama and Vietnam. His meritorious service in South Vietnam earned him the Bronze Star Medal and the Army Commendation Medal. Upon his return to the USA, he attended Texas A&M University from which he obtained MS and PhD degrees in 1970 and 1972. He then joined the offshore division of the Exxon Production Research Company in Houston, Texas. Throughout the years, he advanced through various levels of responsibility in offshore geotechnical and earthquake engineering. In this capacity he was responsible for planning, conducting and implementing geotechnical research; developing geotechnical specifications and design methodology for major Exxon platform installations; and consulting and troubleshooting for Exxon affiliates. He eventually achieved the position of Senior Research Advisor, one of Exxon's highest technical levels. Until his retirement in 1999, Don was the goto expert and ultimate authority for all geotechnical matters for the largest publicly traded oil and gas company in the world. If Don said, ‘No’, they would not do it; if Don said, ‘Yes’, everybody felt good about doing it. In parallel with his career at Exxon, Don was very active in industry committees, particularly the American Petroleum Institute (API) Geotechnical Resource Group, of which he was a member from 1976 to 2001, and the Chairman from 1978 to 1985. He led the research project on centrifuge research for offshore piling with Prof RF Scott.

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